She was able to hold off the tears until after she left the bowling alley, the first time her favorite sport had ever made her feel this way.
Cassie Edgar had practically been raised in a bowling alley. She had finished the last two years in the top 10 of the Class 6A tournament and was a year-round bowler, forging a reputation as the latest impressive talent from Wichita.
The thought of not being at the state tournament was inconceivable. So when Edgar missed the cut by five pins a year ago, the feeling was so foreign, so jarring that it left her humiliated walking out of a place that had always brought her immense joy.
“Looking back on that day, yeah, it was really bad at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me,” Edgar said. “If that didn’t happen, then I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I did in the last year. It feels like such a blessing now.”
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Edgar, a senior at South, will enter the Class 6A regional tournament Thursday at West Acres Bowl with the No. 1 average in the state at 217 pins per game.
Last year’s failure made Edgar examine every aspect of her game and realize she needed a complete overhaul. The weekend after the regional meet, Edgar sought out Mark Johansen, an instructor at Seneca Bowl.
“I went up to him and asked him, ‘What do I need to do to make sure that that never happens again?’ ” Edgar said. “I couldn’t not make it to state again.”
Johansen changed her backswing from a “figure-eight,” meaning there was too much movement for Edgar to consistently align her shots, to a more compact delivery.
He also introduced a spare ball to Edgar’s game for the first time. It was a necessity, however, if Edgar was to reach where she wanted to go.
“If you’re going to take your game to the next level, which I think she really wants to do, then you need to learn how to play with a spare ball,” Johansen said. “It takes the lane out of the equation when you learn to throw a spare ball straight.”
Edgar’s spare game has drastically improved and, along with it, her consistency. Not only does Edgar hold the top average, but her 755 series on Feb. 1 ranks first in the state this season as well.
“Just about everything in her game has been better,” South coach Darren Colburn said. “She’s always had the natural ability, but I think she’s tightened up some of her mechanics and I think her mental game has really come a long ways from last year.”
Since being humbled last year, Edgar approaches bowling a different way.
Yes, she knows the scores she’s been posting this season make her a favorite on Thursday. But she also knows averages and high scores don’t mean much when the postseason comes.
“Those scores don’t matter in the moment,” Edgar said. “In the moment, all that matters is what you’re bowling in that frame, in that game. This year I feel like I know where my line is and I know where I’m going to shoot and I know how to adjust if that doesn’t work. I never want to let what happened last year happen again.”