Maize bowling coach Dave Walker isn't focused on his team's record right now. At about the halfway point in the season, Walker is more concerned about the Eagles' development than winning matches.
The girls team placed second in Class 6A last season, and it returned all but one of its bowlers, including 6A champion Leela Yahya. With that foundation in place, Walker hasn't made his team's regular season standings a point of emphasis.
"Honestly I can't tell you what our record is," Walker said. "I know we've won more than we've lost."
Walker said the team isn't bowling at the level he would like them to be at, but if all goes according to plan that will not be a problem when the big matches roll around in February.
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"The girls have been around me for a couple of years," Walker said. "They know that this part of the season is a constant grind: Practicing, getting better, working on your fundamentals so that when we get to the end of the season we can accomplish what we want to accomplish, and that's performing at state."
Walker said Maize has had trouble adjusting to lane conditions, and has been using that weakness as motivation in practices. The goal is for each player to improve enough so that they might get opportunities to play at a collegiate level like Yahya, who has received offers to bowl from Long Island and Delaware.
"That's just as important to me as anything else, them being able to continue with their bowling careers and honestly help out with their college expenses," Walker said."
Carroll looks to shine in tournament — Bishop Carroll seniors Kolby Franklin and Shawn Hansen played a key role in the team's City League championship last season, and both went on to place in the Class 5A tournament.
Carroll is off to a 3-0 start in duel matches, and placed fourth in an early-season baker format tournament that featured 26 teams. The Eagles' start is a directly related to the team's senior leadership, according to coach Jim Nance.
"We have great experience up there," Nance said. "And I have a freshman and two sophomores behind them that need that leadership. We will compete against everybody, and on any given day I think we are capable of beating anybody."
Carroll will compete against some of the state's top teams in the Great Plains tournament Saturday at Northrock. Nance said it will be a good opportunity to see teams that he wouldn't normally see until sub-state play. He wants Carroll to embrace the environment.
"There are going to be huge crowds," Nance said. "It's going to be a good experience for kids to perform under pressure. When you bowl in a league or at practice, you don't have a grandstand full of people screaming at you. When the lights are on you, you've got to stay focused and poised, and you can't let the other stuff get to you."