WICHITA, Kan.—The Class 6A girls’ state bowling tournament saw two come-from-behind wins on Thursday afternoon. Both the team champion Maize Eagles and individual champion Courtney Hill of Campus overcame deficits in the final game to take home titles.
Maize started out on fire in the first game with a healthy 930-pin team total for a 122-pin lead over East and 127-pin lead over third-place Olathe North.
The cushion quickly disappeared after the second game scores came in. Maize rolled an 812 as a team, while Olathe North shot up the leaderboard with a 941-pin second game.
Maize Head Coach Dave Walker had simple instructions for his girls after losing the big lead.
“Just close the spares. Keep rolling and roll three games,” Walker said. “That is all you can do. When you have good competition like that you just have to close your spares.”
Lane adjustments also tempered the Maize strike train in the second and third games.
“The lanes change and the girls have to make adjustments,” Walker said. “There is that idea that it is going great, but you just have to stay real and finish the games.”
Maize rolled an 818-pin final game to edge Olathe North by just six pins in a team championship that truly went top to bottom. Click Here for complete results.
“The biggest thing today is that all six girls bowled,” Walker said. “So we had six girls bowling and that helps when you have to have those four high scores. They peaked at the right time.”
Maize’s top two finishers were Arianna Perez and senior Leela Yahya in a tie for fourth place with 674 pins. Yahya closed out a career on Thursday that saw two team championships for Maize to go with her own individual championship as a sophomore.
“You always want to coach these kids that take it to the next level and she (Yahya) is going to go on and bowl in college. She had a state title two years ago and she took (fifth) today and the team did well. It is like gravy,” Walker said.
Wichita East finished third in the girls team race with 2346 pins.
The individual title was wide-open throughout the event with Hill of Campus storming back late for the title. After the opening game, Hill had a score of 221 and sat in ninth. Things did not improve in the second game after she rolled a 201 and slipped to 12th.
Many people would have counted Hill out, but her coach Kenny Fulkerson knew she had a shot despite the 68-pin deficit.
“I knew she did (have a chance to win). She is a very solid bowler. It is just a matter of getting her convinced of her ability,” Fulkerson said. “When she starts throwing strikes you just let her go. You don’t even talk to her anymore.”
Hill got on one of those strike streaks as she bowled the second-best game of the day with a 266-pin effort to win the title.
Fulkerson attributed her late success to finally calming down.
“She relaxed. Just getting past where it is state and the jitters of that,” Fulkerson said. “When she relaxes everything just becomes mechanics. That is what I try to teach them is to just relax and throw the ball and that is what she did. Once she did, that is money from there on in.”
The title has been a longtime coming for Hill. She was a four-time state qualifier for the Colts and two-time placer, but her career started much earlier at age three with her family.
“I grew up around bowling,” Hill said. “It means everything just to be with my family in bowling. This is the one thing that we always have had in common.”
Madison Kent of Olathe North finished second with 679 pins. Hutchinson’s Shelby Harms stormed from outside of the top 14 to finish in third place. She bowled a tournament-best 268 in her final game to climb into the top three. The Maize duo of Perez and Yahya rounded out the top five.