Derby bowling coach John Nichols has a saying.
"The ball is round and the lanes are oily. You just never know what can happen."
The Derby boys took that to heart the last two years by sneaking past everyone and winning their regional as an underdog.
This year, after winning the Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division I-II tournament last weekend, Derby comes into its regional at West Acres Bowl as one of the favorites.
"This year we are one of the contenders," Nichols said. "We know we can do it, it's not a matter of ability we've proven that. It's a matter of can we do it again."
Standing in Derby's way are two top-three teams from last year's state meet. Maize and defending Class 6A champion Goddard are at West Acres today.
North, which won the City League tournament last weekend, and Campus (third in AV-CTL I-II) will also be there, so the competition will be tough.
Nichols knows that, but he believes that the Panthers have an edge with team chemistry.
"It's not something you can dictate, it comes from within," Nichols said. "This team has come together, you can see it. They aren't concerned with what's happening with everyone else. You have a feeling, that atmosphere."
Derby's team consistency has been the key to the Panthers' success, Nichols said. In the big meets, someone always stepped up.
Blaine Frazier (third) and Tim Lindsey (fourth) led the Panthers at the AV-CTL meet, both bowling series of more than 700.
Lindsey epitomizes what Nichols sees as consistency.
"Tim has bowled consistent all year," Nichols said. "It's a mindset. He can string strikes together like anybody, but even when he's not on his high game he keeps cool and still knows what he needs to do."
Class 5A — The El Dorado boys had one top-nine bowler, senior Scott Rebholz (fifth), at their AV-CTL Division III-IV tournament.
But El Dorado won the meet by getting three more from 10th to 13th place. It was quite a surprise for coach Shawn Light that four bowlers got medals.
El Dorado arrives for its regional in Emporia today at Flint Hills Lanes with confidence and momentum.
"They've been getting better the entire season," Light said. "It was a surprise that four people bowled very consistent."
Rebholz is the big-tournament bowler and was consistent in league.
Senior Alex Wygle, who is noticeably high in strike and spare percentage, is El Dorado's No. 1 bowler.
But Light knows it will take even more of a team effort to qualify his team for state.
"It takes quite a bit to qualify a whole team for state," Light said. "We will have to go in with a positive attitude. We are going to have to do much better than what we bowled at the league tournament too. You have to do it as a team, if you are going to be successful."