HS bowling: Evergreen senior looking for championship finish

Kerissa Andersen hopes to leave on top

VANCOUVER — This is it for Kerissa Andersen.

Two more high school bowling events.

That is all.

Evergreen senior Kerissa Andersen won the individual state title as a sophomore and has helped the Plainsmen to back-to-back team state championships. She and her teammates hope to make it back to state this year. The district championship is Friday. Photo by Paul Valencia
Evergreen senior Kerissa Andersen won the individual state title as a sophomore and has helped the Plainsmen to back-to-back team state championships. She and her teammates hope to make it back to state this year. The district championship is Friday. Photo by Paul Valencia

She is not looking forward to bowling in college because the plan, as of now, is for her to finish her incredible high school bowling career and be done as a student-athlete.

Oh, she has the talent to be a bowler in college. Her passion for the game remains strong, too.

She just simply does not want to leave the region.

“I love home,” Andersen said. “I love my rainy area.”

And her family. And her friends.

College bowling is an option for the top competitors in this sport. However, it is not an option in the Northwest. College bowling is big in the the midwest, south, east … just not much out west.

Andersen, a senior at Evergreen, has plenty of offers to compete in college.

“I just don’t want to leave home. I don’t want to go cross country,” she said. “I’d much rather stay home.”

She plans on studying occupational therapy at Clark College and will continue with her sport in adult leagues.

Which means her focus for the next couple of weeks is high school bowling. Andersen won the individual state championship as a sophomore and has helped Evergreen win back-to-back team titles.

“My dream finish with Evergreen bowling is definitely win as a team and an individual,” Andersen said.

The Plainsmen have to get to state first. The district championship is Friday at Crosley Lanes in Vancouver. This year, only the top two teams will advance to the WIAA state championships in what has always been one of the most competitive districts in the state. A year ago, for example, Evergreen, Hudson’s Bay, and Kelso finished in the top four at state.

The Evergreen Plainsmen have rolled to bowling team championships in 2017 and 2018. They hope to qualify for state again and go for three in a row. Photo by Paul Valencia
The Evergreen Plainsmen have rolled to bowling team championships in 2017 and 2018. They hope to qualify for state again and go for three in a row. Photo by Paul Valencia

If the Plainsmen make it to state, they will look for a third consecutive championship. Karina Johnsen, Teryn Stine, Kailee Wilcox, and Summer Whitney will be on board with Andersen, trying to continue Evergreen’s dominance in the sport. Dakota O’Neil, who finished fifth in state last year, is returning from an injury and also could be on the squad.

For Andersen, a third team title would mean more to her than a second individual crown. Her teammates have become a second family to her.

“It’s more important because everyone will have a chance to have a title,” she said.

She has, after all, experienced it all.

As a sophomore, she said she walked into the state championship expecting to “Wow” everybody with an incredible performance. She did just that, winning the title.

Defending that title was tough. She finished seventh in 2018.

“I wasn’t feeling super bad because I tried my best,” Andersen said. “That’s all you can really do.”

Plus, she returned the next day to help Evergreen cruise in the Baker games to win the team championship again.

There is a lot of joy and a lot of frustration in this game. A good roll is not always rewarded, while a bad roll can get a lucky result.

Still, it is mostly joy for Andersen, who has seen it all, pretty much her whole life.

“I grew up in a bowling alley. I was basically raised in a bowling alley,” she said. “All I’ve known is bowling.”

And bowling has been good to her.

Earlier this month, Andersen had true gem, recording a personal best 288 for Evergreen program record.

In the first frame, she rolled a “beautiful shot” but left the 10-pin. As good as she is, she said she had been struggling to get a spare with the 10-pin.

“Let’s pick this up,” she challenged herself. “And I did.”

She would not have to pick up anything on her next 10 rolls. Strike, strike, strike. From the second frame to the 10th frame and then on the first extra ball.

“It was really fun. I just saw everyone cheering for me,” Andersen said.

Not just her teammates, but the bowlers from other teams, too. Word got around that this was a special performance.

“I started noticing it as the frames went on,” Andersen said of the increasing crowd. “That was the best part, having everyone there watching.”

Looking to end the game with 11 strikes in a row, she said she was shaking from nerves as she held the ball.

She ended up leaving two pins, giving her that 288.

Andersen would love another game like that on Friday. Maybe again at state, too. The Class 3A state championships will be held Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 in University Place. The 4A and 2A events are Feb. 1 and 2.

And unless she changes her mind, that will be it for Andersen’s student-athlete bowling career.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Andersen said.

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