In 17 years of coaching bowling, Jodi Floyd thought she had seen everything there was to see at the high school level.
She has seen three state championship teams go through Northwest. She has had an individual state champion. She has won seven City League championships.
“I’ve seen a lot of great stuff in my time, so it’s not like I’ve never been here before,” Floyd said. “I’m telling you, I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
That’s because no one has.
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In a two-week span earlier this month, the Northwest boys set the state record for the highest one-game score (1,028) and series (2,952). That kind of success in a single season is unprecedented.
The Grizzlies won all eight of their league matches and enter Saturday’s league meet at West Acres favored to repeat as champions. They hold the highest average (2,746) in the state and have five bowlers carrying better than a 210-pin average.
It is the deepest, most potent squad Floyd says she has seen at the high school level.
“It’s almost overwhelming watching them bowl,” Floyd said. “A few years ago, I would have been going crazy over these scores. What is scary is that I’m coming to expect those high scores because I know they’re that good.”
Northwest has three bowlers with experience from its 2014 championship team in Lane Stanberry (225 average), Brandon Kraus (231), and Zach Hall (213). Senior Tanner Schmidt (195) and junior Luke Ewertz (212) have both elevated their consistency this season, while freshman Gabe Alvarez (211) give the Grizzlies another scoring punch.
Regardless of how the postseason turns out, Northwest has accomplished historic success. But Floyd says nerves, hers at least, are beginning to flare up because she knows historic success means the expectation for Northwest to cement its place as the most dominant team in state history with another championship.
“When they bowled that 2,952, that was the thought in the back of my head,” Floyd said. “It’s overwhelming to see what they’ve accomplished already, but at the same time, you hope that you don’t peak too early. We know there’s going to be a lot of pressure on us to win from here on out.”
Mulvane girls evolving – Mulvane senior Maddison Osenbaugh has blossomed into one of the top bowlers this season, carrying the No. 1 scoring average in Class 4-1A at 207.
“What’s impressed me the most with her this season has just been her consistency,” Mulvane coach Lance Heath said. “She may have a bad ball, but she’ll pick it up and get right back into it. So just her overall attitude is the biggest thing to me.”
Mulvane’s team, which will compete in the AV-CTL Division III-IV meet at The Alley on Friday, has also improved drastically this season with returners Hannah Burget, Ryann Feast, and Katie Gile, along with newcomer Addy Schiffelbein.
Heath knew the team was evolving into a good one when Osenbaugh had her worst series of the season and the rest of the team rallied to bowl their best team score (2,437) of the season in McPherson on Feb. 5.
“That showed me that we’re growing as a team,” Heath said. “We’re probably bowling the best we have right now, so we’re pretty excited to be peaking at the right time.”
City League notes – Northwest, the defending league champions, averaged nearly 300 more pins than Bishop Carroll, which finished second in the standings, during the season. Northwest dominates the top of the league in average, although Caleb Limes of Heights is a contender for individual honors.
The East girls, the defending league champions, swept through the league duals and enter with the second-best average (2,526) in the state. The Herzberg sisters, Addie (208 average) and Aspen (197), power the Blue Aces, while South’s Cassie Edgar holds the top average in the state at 217 and has posted the top series (755) this season.