Plainsmen have won five of the past six state team titles
The state championship bowling trophy might want to buy space at Evergreen High School, not rent.
After all, it has been delivered to Evergreen after five of the past six championships held by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.
Last week, the Plainsmen won it again at the Class 3A event. Senior Kierra Wilcox won the individual championship — by one pin — last Wednesday. And on Thursday morning, all of the Plainsmen teamed up in the Baker Games to maintain their lead in the team event, rolling to another title.
This week, the Plainsmen talked about their accomplishments. They also noted that while the trophy is at Evergreen, Big Al’s also is the home of the state champions, too.
That’s right. The bowling center at Big Al’s is home to all Evergreen School District teams. It is where every team practices and plays home matches.
Alexis Clarke, one of two seniors on the team, remembered Evergreen winning it all when she was a freshman.
“My seniors, they set us up, we have this big name, and we have to keep it,” Clarke said. “My senior year, I’ve got to set it up for these guys, so they can keep the torch.”
“I just wanted to do as best as we could,” Wilcox said of the team goal heading into state. “We were struggling throughout the season. Bakers were not easy for us. We threw our highest Baker scores at state.”
Peaking at the perfect time.
At state bowling, individuals bowl their games on one day and they are all added up for a team score. On the second day, it’s 14 Baker Games.Those competitions consist of five athletes from each team, with each rolling two frames a game.
Evergreen had a big lead after the first day, then extended that lead throughout the Bakers.
“We had fun. I wasn’t there (just) for the championship. I was there because this team is moreso my family,” said freshman Alissa Barber.
“It’s nice that I got to experience being state champs before I graduate next year,” junior Zoey Mikkelsen said.
“I love my team very much,” added freshman Izabella Curry. “I’m very happy we got to come this far together and accomplish what we did. We’re going to miss the seniors.”
Then there was sophomore Chloe Shove with the understatement of the interview.
“It was cool,” she said, with very little emotion in her voice.
Her teammates burst out laughing. That’s Chloe, they said. Earlier this season, they asked the quiet Chloe to cheer a little more at a match. Chloe came up with: “Go Team. Don’t suck.”
The Plainsmen were so impressed that they had that quote printed on their bowling hoodies, for inspiration.
The Plainsmen did go to state, and they did not suck.
The team ended up with little drama on its way to the title, but Wilcox had a chaotic ending in the individual race. She had a huge lead after five of the six games. Then struggled in the final game.
“I thought I was losing it all. I started crying. I got very emotional. I was very upset,” Wilcox said. “I didn’t want to be around anyone. I just wanted to bowl good, and I did not.”
Actually, she bowled well enough in the first five games — including a 658 series with her first three games — that her 121 score on the final game did not cost her the title. She won by a single pin.
“I didn’t know until they announced it,” she said.
“We knew, but we weren’t going to tell her,” Mikkelsen said.
Yep, the rest of the team and the parents and coaches all tallied up the scores and had Wilcox still in the lead. But it wasn’t official until the WIAA announced it. All those who placed at state were named, from 12th to first, and Wilcox didn’t hear her name until only she remained.
“I was so happy,” Wilcox said.
Clarke, meanwhile, also placed at state, taking sixth.
The Plainsmen thanked their coach Robin Bailey and her husband Dennis for all the support, encouragement, and advice.
They also are grateful for the bowling community. No high school has its own lanes, so the teams in the county use bowling centers to train. Big Al’s is the home for all the teams from Evergreen schools.
“We are very thankful that Big Al’s gives us a place to play and practice,” Clarke said.
“We are so appreciative that we get to go there every day,” Wilcox added.
“Without that practice time, we wouldn’t have made it,” Curry said.
David Mayhew, the general manager at Big Al’s, said the partnership his company has with Evergreen and Camas schools is “awesome.”
“With the Evergreen School District being right in our backyard, it’s our pleasure to be able to host girls bowling,” Mayhew said. “I was really excited to see high school athletes out actively participating in bowling. It’s something I root for every year.”
Inside Big Al’s, there are several pieces of sports memorabilia, including uniforms from local high school teams in many sports.
“We have Evergreen jerseys but we don’t have an Evergreen girls bowling jersey,” Mayhew said. “We need to get one of those cool jerseys up there.”
Cale Piland, the athletic director for Evergreen Public Schools, said Big Al’s has been a great partner to work with through the years.
“It’s a win-win,” Piland said. “The location is great for us, and they’re also growing the sport. Having kids participate, that helps them from a business model standpoint, as well.”
Bowling, after all, is a lifelong sport.
Winning championships seems to be a constant, too, at Evergreen.
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