High School Sports

Trinity boys bowlers ready for shot at championship

The difference, Divante Henriquez will tell you, lies in the noise level after a strike.

All it takes is one quick listen after Henriquez bowls a strike for the Trinity bowling team to know what he's talking about.

"I'll turn around after I bowl a strike and it's just silent, except for a couple of family members," Henriquez said. "Then I see Bishop Carroll get a strike and the place just goes crazy."

It's true that Trinity has yet to develop much fan support in its second-year program. Henriquez says "no one really cares" about the team around school.

The Knights have a chance to change that this afternoon when they compete in the Class 5-1A bowling championships at Northrock.

"I told them if they can put three solid games together, then they're going to get some respect," coach Tom Nykamp said.

It's been a fast rise through the ranks for Trinity, which only sent Henriquez to state in its inaugural season. Nykamp took over the program this season, but did so with limited bowling knowledge.

"I think some of the kids thought I could only take them so far with my bowling knowledge," Nykamp said. "I know it was pretty basic, so I hired an assistant in Rob Prather."

Prather has been the perfect addition. He has been able to give specific instruction and advice, where Nykamp serves as more of a motivating force.

"It's worked out pretty well this year," Nykamp said.

Last week at its regional, it all came together for Trinity. The Knights bowled a high first game, but Nykamp didn't know what was on the way.

"We've done that before this season," Nykamp said. "But when we did it again the second game, I knew we had a chance. Then the third game they didn't fall off. That was pretty special." Trinity won the meet with a score of 2,808 — the highest score of the season for any team that will be bowling today.

"We're still not known by anybody," junior Zach McKenzie said. "I know a bunch of other people on other teams and when we came into regionals they were talking major trash about how bad they were going to beat us. Then we owned them."

So the Knights will be bowling for a little bit more than most teams today. They want to gain the following of other teams. They want the respect they feel they deserve.

To do that, though, requires one accomplishment.

"To win it, I guess," Henriquez said. "Isn't that what every team wants to do?"

Wichita dominance — Since the state meet's inception in 2005, all six boys titles — the last four Class 6A — have been won by Wichita-area schools.

Maize leads the way with two state championships, including last season. Goddard bowlers, owners of one state title, have taken note — especially after being in the lead entering the final game at state last year.

"My boys want that title badly," Goddard coach Brian Adelgren said. "And not just to avenge the loss last year, but to put a cap on our exceptional season this year."

Derby coach John Nichols said he wouldn't call it "a friendly rivalry" with Goddard and Maize. But all coaches involved agree it is important to keep the title somewhere in the Wichita area.

"It is a testament to a stronger level of competition stemming from a higher level of coaching, proactive bowling proprietors with exceptional youth programs and the examples set by the collegiate programs in the area," Adelgren said.

Different mentality — The Carroll girls team has been here before. The Golden Eagles have won every regional title possible, and have entered the state meet before as the heavy favorite.

It has produced two state championships, in 2005 and 2009, but coach Jim Nance feels like it should have been more. That's why he's changed his approach for the team entering today's meet.

"I want our girls to go into the meet with a chip on their shoulder, like they have something to prove," Nance said. "And we do. In years past we have been the top seed and maybe we took winning for granted. I don't want them to take anything for granted."

Carroll will have two legitimate shots at the individual title in freshman Hollyann Johanson and senior Morgan Kuckelman. The rest of the team is Jordynn Schmidt, Kaitlin Johnson, Anna Bohr and Rachael Rotramel.

Budding rivalry — The Heights girls bowling program has traditionally been one of the better ones in the City League. The Falcons have proven that through two state championships, including the Class 6A title last year.

But they have faced a new contender within their own league in East. The Blue Aces defeated Heights for the first time at the City League meet.

Heights defeated East in the regular season and also at regionals.

"We enjoy bowling against Heights," East coach Teresa Hall said. "I think it brings out the best in us. They beat us in the regular season, we beat them at league and they beat us at regionals, so I think it's our turn to beat them now."

"I don't think any of us will ever forget this year," Hall said. "We don't really consider ourselves the underdogs, since this is what we have been working for since last year. I'm just so proud of them all."