The West Delaware girls narrowly missed the chance to become the first team in school history to compete at the Class 2A State Bowling Tournament this winter, but the 2019 WaMaC champions bring back every single member of their varsity lineup for another crack at it in 2020.
“Everybody’s already fired up and ready to go for summer league,” head coach Ken Boesenberg said of the team. “We know we’re going to be a lot better next year – probably 150 pins per match better – and this group will get where we will need to be for the postseason.”
The highlight of the year was undoubtedly securing the program’s first WaMaC team championship from the comfort of Lightning Lanes Feb. 9. The Hawks dominated the competition, placing three bowlers in the top five and posting a season-best tally of 2,733 to topple fellow contenders Central Dewitt and Maquoketa.
That effort was aided by the crowning of the Hawks’ second consecutive individual champion, junior Kaliah Griffin — who unleashed a massive career best 432 series to top all competitors. Griffin follows in the footsteps of fellow junior Hannah Axline, who snagged the win back in 2018. Another veteran that played a key role in the front end of the lineup was junior Lorna Niedert, who finished seventh overall at the 1A state championships two seasons ago.
“They’re all capable of performing as our number one, that’s the best part,” Boesenberg said. “(Niedert and Axline) will both be bumping that 200 average next year, they’ll jump up another 15 pins just like they did this season.”
West Delaware (25-9, 2,453 team average) saw their 2018-19 campaign come to an end in the Decorah-hosted state qualifying meet, Feb. 12. Axline finished second overall to lead the effort, with Niedert and junior Lacey Cole finishing close behind in fifth and eighth, respectively. The Hawks still ended up in second behind auto-qualifier Waterloo East, with the difficulty of the Decorah Lanes venue crushing any remaining hopes the Hawks had in securing a statewide at-large selection.
Despite that abrupt end to their otherwise productive season, the Hawks aren’t finding it too difficult to keep a positive mindset with four seniors and two juniors expected to return next season.
This year, Niedert led the team with a 187.15, 10 pins better than her 2018 average. Axline also saw improvement in going from 168 to 184.1. The pair finished in the 1-2 slots for the Hawks in seven of eleven meets this season.
Cole (158.75) was a consistent second or third scorer for the Hawks in several outings. Griffin’s big day at conference bolstered her season average from 139.4 all the way to 154.45. Sophomores Kaley Pettlon (142.25) and Kyleigh Marsden (131) were also important contributors, and will seek to continue to grow and learn the game as they enter their upper class years.
Niedert posted the team’s best series of the season, 444, in a win over Monticello on Jan. 17. Axline added exactly one hundred pins to her own career high (436), while Griffin improved her personal best by 108 pins (432). Cole (405) and Marsden (332) also improved on their best marks from last season, with Marsden delivering hers in the final meet of the year.