It was no three-peat, but a third-place finish at the Class 2A Boys Bowling State Tournament was a great ending to a stellar season for the West Delaware bowlers.
The Hawks managed to keep cool heads after a somewhat disappointing third-place finish in the WaMaC Tournament at Lightning Lanes, Feb. 9. They bounced back just three days later to win the Decorah state qualifying meet, 3,020-2,943, over area-rival Western Dubuque, to earn their trip to the big dance.
The group made its way to Waterloo’s Cadillac Lanes as one of eight 2A teams vying for the state title, Feb. 19. In the end, 25 pins were all that stood in the way between state champion Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson (3,175), runner-up North Scott (3,157) and the third place Hawks (3,150).
West Delaware was paced by a fifth-place finish from junior Brandon Larsen and a tenth place performance out of senior Alex Schnieders.
Larsen’s performance was particularly remarkable in that it came in just his first year of high school bowling, after he had made the decision to convert from basketball this winter. He is now the eighth Hawk to medal at state.
Schnieders became the second Hawk in program history to earn multiple state medals after finishing as the Class 1A runner-up in 2017. Weeks earlier, he also claimed the program’s first individual WaMaC championship, improving on his fifth-place finish from the year before to cement his place in the West Delaware record books. Schnieders also carried the team high series at 511, which came in a home meet against Independence, Dec. 7, and helped boost the Hawks to their best team score of the year (3,245).
However, at the core of the Hawks’ success this season was the fact that every varsity contributor was able to find their niche and pull their weight when it mattered most. Senior Ian Tibbott, for example, served as the team’s most consistent performer, carrying the best average at 214.75 while leading the scoring in five meets.
Senior Cole Turnis, who often found himself in the bottom half of the scoring for much of the year, rolled a season-high 434 series in the state qualifier at Decorah to finish second for the team. His efforts helped West Delaware win the meet to punch their ticket to state.
Junior Eli Heims rolled a season best series score of 436 to finish third for the team at state, where senior Grant Schmidt also recorded his second best tally of the year.
As a team, the Hawks capped their season off with an 18-7 dual meet record and a 2,977 team average. Behind Tibbott’s leading average was Schnieders (209.2), Larsen (197.4), Heims (192.33), Schmidt (183.8) and Turnis (180.7).
Both Tibbott and Schnieders posted scores of 400 or better in eight of their appearances on the season, while every member of the varsity roster did so at least twice. Larsen (498) and Tibbott (490) finished with the second and third best series scores after Schnieders.
Larsen and Heims will now carry the torch for the seniors that helped pave the way for their own success this season. Their experience will be a major factor in West Delaware’s quest to continue their recent streak of postseason success in 2020. For now, there’s still plenty of time to relax and look back on what was one of the most successful seasons to date for the Hawks.
“It was special. Until the last couple of years, we hadn’t been to state for a little while. It certainly wasn’t business as usual,” second-year head coach Bob Morris said. “The key to the season was that they stayed real patient, they have fun with it and communicate with each other out on the lanes. They were all about what we do and let everything else just fall into place.”