About six weeks ago, Campus' Sean Carman told his coach he wanted to change his bowling style, giving up a looping curve in his throw for a more straight-line approach.
“That worries me, because we know what works, and now you want to change it?” Campus coach Kenny Fulkerson said about the proposition.
“He's been money ever since he's changed it,” Fulkerson said.
Carman was the model of consistency for Campus, rolling a 214-217-212 for a 643 series. Those numbers helped guide the Colts to not only qualify the squad for state, but to champion the regional.
“We knew we could do it,” Carman said. “We just had to do it.”
Campus placed fifth as a team at the 6A state meet a year ago. In that event, the Colts posted a team score of 2,640 pins.
At Friday's regional, Campus got by with 2,494. That was enough this time, but a state championship will likely require the Colts to hone in on miscues. They believe they can.
“I told my assistant I think we left about 200 pins behind that we didn't get,” Fulkerson said. “We could have put a lot more up – easy spares, little stuff that they missed.”
Individually, everyone chased Wichita Southeast's Derick Holmes at regionals.
“I know I can be up there with guys like Derick, but he's a really good bowler,” Carman said. “I just do the best I can to keep up with guys like that.”
Holmes was locked in early, firing off a 238 game. He polished off two serviceable games after to end with a 674 series.
“It's always tough when you bowl after the girls, because you never know what they leave before you,” Holmes said of the lane conditions. “You just have to go in there and figure it out in practice, and you have to figure it out early - just carry on throughout the day with that.”
Holmes placed 19th at state as a sophomore, helping Southeast finish fourth. He believes both those numbers can improve with an inspired week of practice.
As for what the individual regional trophy means, Holmes cannot quite define it yet, but he has a few days to soak it in before his head zeroes in on state.
“I don't know, man, but it feels good,” Holmes said.
Garden City finished third at regionals, sending its entire roster to state. Juan Ramirez's 657 put him just below Holmes individually, while teammate Tristan Funk was fifth. Dodge City's Dylan Woods was third.
Campus was the only school to double-up on shipping off the whole team to state. The Colts placed second in the girls' competition.
Fulkerson said the Colts are young, and left plenty of points on the lanes – but that has him ambitious for what they can produce moving forward.
“I'm stoked about state now,” he said. “I'm ready to get up there and take care of business.”
But first, Campus will have to make up ground on Wichita East. The Blue Aces tallied 2,233 pins, 25 ahead of Campus.
Senior Ashlyn Herzberg pushed East to the top, cruising past the field with a 627 series. Campus' Madison Taylor took second individually, shooting a 593.
Dodge City's Amanda Simmons, Derby's Brooke Webb and Campus' Alyssa McGee rounded out the top five.
Derby finished third to join Campus and East with full squads at state. Maize, the defending champions in 6A, placed sixth. The Eagles will only be represented by Ariana Perez. She was ninth at regionals, but took fifth at state in 2012.
East was third at state a year ago, and Derby was eighth. Campus did not qualify as a team, but Fulkerson sees potential for something special.
“I think we can run with any of them,” he said.
The 6A state tournament is Friday, March 1 at Northrock Lanes in Wichita.