Great Bend coach Mike Perry doesn’t mean to sound arrogant. He’s just being honest when he admits that he thought his boys bowlers would win the Class 5-1A state title this week.
“That might sound boisterous,” he acknowledged, “but last year we finished second with the same team.”
Great Bend, which includes five seniors and one sophomore, earned the state crown Thursday, Feb. 28, with a team score of 2,695. The Panthers also produced the individual state champion, senior Daniel Herrman, who bowled a 759.
This year’s performance represented a little revenge for Great Bend, which finished second to Goddard Eisenhower last season. The boys trailed Eisenhower 990-875 after the first game Thursday.
“We saw the first scores,” said Herrman, “and we were like, ‘Oh, brother, here we go again.’”
However, Perry told the boys not to keep looking at the standings because they were competing with themselves. Great Bend had seized the lead at the end of the second game, so Perry allowed his bowlers to check the standings once.
“We just had to keep our focus,” the coach remarked.
Goddard Eisenhower placed second Thursday with a team score of 2,582. Bishop Carroll accumulated 2,575 for third.
Perry said the Great Bend team had qualified for state four years in a row. He figured the Panthers’ disappointment as runner-up last year helped motivate them this season.
“It’s just been in the back of our mind for 364, 365 days,” he added.
Another motivating factor was the boys’ finish at their regional. They did not win, perhaps because they were overconfident, and Perry said the experience was “a wake-up call” heading into this week.
Herrman said he did not expect to emerge from Thursday’s tournament as the individual winner. The Panthers’ goal, he continued, was to take first as a team.
“That’s the best I’ve ever shot, actually,” said Herrman. “My second best is, like, 50 pins below that.”
Herrman has not chosen a college, but he hopes to bowl for a team.
Thursday’s state runner-up finished just four pins behind Herrman. Ashton Bigger, a junior from Topeka Seaman, rolled a 755. Freshman Ryan Franzen of Salina Sacred Heart followed in third place with 708.
Last year’s state champion, Alec Patterson of Maize South, claimed ninth place Thursday. He is a senior.