Varsity/JV Bowling · Buffs’ boys’ bowlers repeat WAC title; Girls 2nd


Whitehurst, Bridges claim WAC individual crowns

There was plenty of hardware available for the Garden City Buffaloes’ boys and girls bowling teams to bring home from Dodge City on Wednesday after the Western Athletic Conference championship concluded at Spare Tyme Bowl.

And most of that hardware came in the form of gold – first place and Bowler of the Year awards to juniors Kaden Whitehurst and Holly Bridges for the Buffs’ boys’ and girls’ teams – along with a repeat for the boys in claiming the 2021 WAC title while the Lady Buffs, with a nearly-new varsity roster, placed second behind Great Bend as the two rival schools flipped their 2020 finishes.

All in all, it was a good day and a positive finish to the regular season for coach Kip Nichols and his two squads. Now, the teams have a week to prepare for the Class 6A regional which will be contested at West Acres Bowl in Wichita on Feb. 25. The Garden teams will compete at 1:50 p.m. along with Hutchinson, Dodge City and Liberal while four Wichita area teams – Wichita West, Wichita South, Wichita Northwest and Haysville-Campus – will compete in the morning session.

Perhaps the biggest and best performance of the day, however, came from Bridges, a junior who is now in her third year of being on the varsity and was just one of two returners from the 2020 league championship team.

Her 743 is an all-time program record, dating back to 2005 and came on individual games of 247-258-230. It took that kind of performance to overtake not only Great Bend’s defending bowler of the year, Paige Wagner, but also to hold off Dodge City’s Camryn Lenz, who also broke the 700-series barrier with a 705 (215-248-246).

Previously, Rikkie Hemmert had the program record of 735 (268-264-203) set against Liberal in 2012. Bridges had rolled her first 700 series in her freshman season (2019) against Liberal with games of 257-239-215.  Ryleigh Whitehurst had a 705 series in 2019 and Karly Larson a 700 series in 2018.

“Holly has definitely been the anchor for our young team,” Nichols said. “She’s been a quiet leader and I think the other girls respect what she wants to get done and they’re buying into the process.”

First, Nichols talked about the dominating performance of the Buffaloes’ boys’ squad.

“I was very pleased with the way the boys came out after a little bit of a slow start,” Nichols said of his boys team which rolled totals of 836-909-872 for a series total of 2,617, exactly 200 pins ahead of Great Bend. “I told the boys after the first game that an 836, while it sounds good, won’t cut it at regionals next week. They needed to push themselves and I thought they responded quite well.”

Whitehurst, who is the defending Class 6A state individual champion, took second in the individual daily competition Wednesday, but was able to overcome a 10-pin deficit to Great Bend’s Bryce Moore, the 2020 Bowler of the Year, and rolled a 658 series (200-234-224) while Moore could muster only a 578 series. Caleb Murphy of Great Bend, though, took the top spot with a 668 series.

For the season, which includes scores from 6 matches in a double round-robin format along with the scores Thursday, Whitehurst averaged just fewer than 220 per game while Moore was just over 216.

Thursday’s 3-game series and then 9 games of the Baker format saw the Buffs’ boy’s claim 18 of a possible 21 points to win the team title going away, finishing the season with 71.5 points while runner-up Great Bend was well back in second, more than 400 pins behind the Buffs. The 3-game blowout allowed the Buffs to know they had the WAC crown all but wrapped up heading to the Baker competition where they bowled 3 games each against the 3 WAC opponents.

“Our Baker has been pretty good most of the year,” Nichols said of his team’s effort Thursday. “They’re becoming more unselfish and while the lineup is not always set, we’re figuring out where to place people in the order to give us the best chance to bowl our best.”

For Whitehurst, winning the WAC was one step toward his goals of qualifying through regionals, team and individually, for a return to the state tournament on March 5 in Wichita.

“It’s a good feeling to win the WAC, both the team and individual,” he said after the Thursday matches had ended. “We’ve got some bigger goals, but this certainly is a confidence boost for all of us. I thought I found my mark early and was able to stay consistent with it most of the day.”

Garden City High School’s boys bowling team won the WAC Championship Wednesday in Dodge City and Kaden Whitehurst (3rd from right) captured the Bowler of the Year award. (Photo by Brett Marshall)

His 658 series was just in front of teammate Caleb Carr’s 657 total, followed by Dionicio Resendiz at 636 and Ty Weilert at 635. Kaden Strasser was next with a 546 and Jayce Farr added a 498. Carr is the lone senior on the team while Whitehurst, Resendiz, Farr and Weilert are juniors and Strasser a freshman.

“We will have to be on top of our game next week at regionals if we want to bowl as a team in Wichita the following week,” Nichols said.

This year, due to changes made with the COVID-19 restrictions imposed, will see 6A bowling compete in 4 regionals of 8 teams each with the top two teams advancing along with the top four individuals otherwise not qualified on a team. The usual format calls for 3 regionals with 3 teams qualifying for the state meet.

It was just a year ago that Bridges and some of her former teammates who graduated in 2020 were chasing Great Bend’s Wagner, but couldn’t overtake her in the individual race, but did come home with the team trophy. Bridges was third then, and to be able to overtake Wagner on the final day was highly satisfying.

Garden City’s Lady Buffaloes bowling team took second at Wednesday’s WAC Championship in Dodge City. Holly Bridges (second from left) captured the Bowler of the Year award. (Photo by Brett Marshall)

“She’s been really consistent all season and is a great bowler,” Bridges said of Wagner.  “Today was just my day and it feels really good. Our team is young and we have had quite a few new girls. Our chemistry has been interesting and we’re getting better day by day. We will be practicing very hard to prepare for regionals.”

That young team has progressively improved through the short seven-week season, and Nichols thinks the best is yet to come.

“The young girls are gaining valuable experience every time we compete,” Nichols said. “The 2,333 series (in the 3-game, 10-pin format) was the best of the season. I was pleasantly surprised but that’s the way the season has gone so far.”

Bridges and Jaelyn Grim are the juniors, Brooke Ptacek, LilyAnn Leeper and Rileigh Carr are sophomores and Hope Resendiz is the lone freshman. The future does look bright.

“Today I bowled really well actually, and I had my new ball and it worked out really well for me,” she said. “I had been saving it for today.”

Upon the conclusion of the Championship Day, the top six bowlers for both boys and girls were named first-team, all-WAC. In addition to Bridges as the top bowler, the other Buffs honored were Ptacek (No. 5) and second-team honors went to Hope Resendiz (8th) and Leeper (10th).

On the boy’s side, the domination was easily exhibited when Whitehurst was followed on the first team by Moore and then teammates Carr (3rd), Resendiz (4th) and Weilert (5th). Second team honors went to Farr (7th) and Strasser (9th).

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Western Athletic Conference

Bowling Championship

Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021

At Spare Tyme Bowl, Dodge City

Girls Final Standings

Championship Day Results

(Total Pins Combined 3-game series/9-game Baker)

  1. Dodge City, 3912 (2336-1576); 2. Garden City, 3851 (2333-1518); 3. Great Bend, 3828 (2267-1561); 4. Liberal, 3125 (1883-1242).

Championship Day Points (Maximum total, 21 points): 1. Dodge City, 15; 2. Garden City, 14; 3. Great Bend, 11; 4. Liberal, 2.

Season Points Standings (Double Round-Robin Duals combined with Championship Day Points):

  1. Great Bend, 64; 2. Garden City, 57; 3. Dodge City, 40; 4. Liberal, 13.

Garden City 3-Game Series Total: 802-763-768—2333.

Baker Scores: Vs. Liberal, 172-157-184—513; vs. Dodge City, 161-193-137—491; vs. Great Bend, 148-180-186—514.

Individual Championship Day Results

  1. Holly Bridges, Garden City, 743 (247-258-238) 2. Camryn Lenz, Dodge City, 705 (215-244-246) 3. Kaylin Wahlmeier, Great Bend, 635 (225-209-201) 4. Paige Wagner, Great Bend, 598 (182-212-204); 5. Brooke Ptacek, Garden City, 580 (176-202-202).

Other Garden City Scores: Hope Resendiz, 490 (154-168-168); LilyAnn Leeper, 465 (171-134-160); Rileigh Carr, 480 (208-135-142); Jaelyn Grim, 390 (141-121-128).

All-Western Athletic Conference – 2021

Girls

First Team

(Numbers below reflect total Pin Count from 3-Game Series for 6 dual matches plus 3-game series at WAC Championship/Season Avg. per Game)

  1. Holly Bridges, Garden City, 3802 (211.22); Paige Wagner, Great Bend, 4299 (204.71); 3. Kaylin Wahlmeier, Great Bend, 3962 (188.67); 4. Camryn Lenz, Dodge City 3888 (185.14); 5. Brooke Ptacek, Garden City, 3779 (179.95); 6. Sahara Rziha, 3647 (173.67).

Girls Bowler of the Year: Holly Bridges, Garden City, Jr.

Girls Coach of the Year: David Feldbauer, Great Bend.

Second Team

  1. Addie Ehrlich, Great Bend, 3437 (163.66); 8. Hope Resendiz, Garden City, 2913 (161.83); 9. Jaden Rabe, Dodge City, 3305 (157.38); 10. LilyAnn Leeper, Garden City, 3304 (157.33; 11. Taylor Lenz, Dodge City, 3246 (154.57); 12. Anna Ridgway, Dodge City, 3176 (151.23).

Boys Final Standings

Championship Day Results

(Total Pins Combined 3-game series/9-game Baker)

  1. Garden City, 4454 (2617-1837); 2. Great Bend, 4018 (2417-1601); 3. Liberal 3866 (2254-1612); Dodge City, 3445 (1918-1477).

Championship Day Points (Maximum total, 21 points): 1. Garden City, 18; 2. Great Bend, 14; 3. Liberal, 10; 4. Dodge City, 1.

Season Points Standings (Double Round-Robin Duals combined with Championship Day Points): 1. Garden City, 71.5; 2. Great Bend, 59; 3. Liberal, 38.5; 4. Dodge City, 6.

Garden City 3-Game Series Total: 836-909-872—2617.

Baker Scores—vs. Liberal, 236-202-165—603; vs. Dodge City, 210-234-191—635; vs. Great Bend, 187-235-177—599.

Individual Championship Day Results

  1. Caleb Murphy, Great Bend, 668 (247-154-267); 2. Kaden Whitehurst, Garden City, 658 (200-234-224); 3. Caleb Carr, Garden City, 657 (200-226-231); 4. Dionicio Resendiz, Garden City, 636 (233-201-202); 5. Ty Weilert, Garden City, 635 (200-248-187).

Other Garden City Scores; Kaden Strasser, 546 (172-159-215); Jayce Farr, 498 (203-127-168).

All-Western Athletic Conference – 2021

Boys

First Team

(Numbers reflect total Pin Count from 3-Game Series for 6 dual matches plus 3-game series at WAC Championship/Avg. per Game)

  1. Kaden Whitehurst, Garden City, 4612 (219.6); 2. Bryce Moore, Great Bend, 4542 (216.2); 3. Caleb Carr, Garden City, 4358 (207.5); 4. Dionicio Resendiz, Garden City, 3516 (195.3); 5. Ty Weilert, Garden City, 4018 (191.3); 6. Corbin Stanley, Great Bend, 3981 (189.6).

Bowler of the Year: Kaden Whitehurst, Garden City, Jr.

Boys Coach of the Year: Kip Nichols, Garden City.

Second Team

  1. Jayce Farr, Garden City, 3358 (186.6); 8. Caleb Murphy, Great Bend, 3860 (183.8); 9. Kaden Strasser, Garden City, 3855 (183.6); 10. Josh King, Liberal, 3763 (179.2); 11. Colby Bremenkamp, Liberal, 3659 (174.2).