The defending Southwest District 4 and 2A state champion W.F. West girls bowling team defended its district title in impressive fashion Wednesday at Triangle Lanes in Longview.
In six games, the Bearcats averaged 190.3 as a team by shooting 4569 total pins to edge out powerhouse Fort Vancouver, who moved down to Class 2A this season (4399 total pins).
The Bearcats also beat district and state rival, and last year’s second-place state finisher, Columbia River (4023).
“As coaches, we could not be prouder of our team’s performance today,” W.F. West head coach Don Bunker said .”We faced so much adversity this season by not having a home bowling alley, transportation issues and driving to Olympia every day for practice. It was a grind at times, but this team had no quit in them and would not be denied their shot to defend their crown. There was no state championship tournament this year, but our district has the best teams in the state.”
The Bearcats spent the last few days practicing at Triangle Lanes to prepare for districts. They heard a lot of hype about the teams down south, about how good Fort Vancouver and Columbia River were.
“Everyone was saying that one of those teams was going to win districts this year,” Bunker said. “Our girls did a nice job of just listening, but this really fired up our team and made us determined to prove everyone wrong who doubted (that) we were not the team to beat.”
The Bearcats set the tone early and shot a tournament high 825 in game one. Cami Aldrich shot a 214 in that opening game, while Piper Chalmers shot a 209, Jessica Loflin a 208 and Brianna Powe 194.
“We put the rest of the teams on notice that the Bearcats were still the team to beat,” Bunker said. “We let our bowling do the talking.”
During the morning session of the first three games, the Bearcats led Fort Vancouver by 91 pins and Columbia River by 217 pins.
In game four, the Bearcats faced off head-to-head with Fort Vancouver.
“We were really looking forward to this game,” Bunker said. “Our girls really wanted to send a message that we are the defending champions and they would have to take it from us if they wanted the title.”
The Bearcats did just that, extending their lead over Fort Vancouver by defeating them 752 to 673.
“I was so impressed with our team going into this game,” assistant coach Rich Bunker said. “Our girls were ready and mentally tough for this matchup. You could just see the confidence and determination in their eyes.”
In the final two games, it was essentially down to who wanted it more, W.F. West or Fort Vancouver.
In Game five, the Bearcats shot an 801 to Fort Vancouver’s impressive 771.
“The team did an excellent job of working together,” assistant coach Cassandra Chalmers said. “This was definitely a team championship. When one girl was down another girl would step up their game. As coaches, it was very rewarding to watch them pick each other up.”
In the final game, the Bearcats ran out of gas a bit, losing 720 to 750 to Fort Vancouver, but the Bearcats still prevailed with their overall total pins victory.
For the individual district championship, the Bearcats took home more hardware.
W.F. West’s Piper Chalmers was crowned the Individual District Champion, shooting an impressive 1271 total pins and averaging 211.8 for the tournament. Chalmers beat out Fort Vancouver’s Nina Albrecht by 47 pins.
Aldrich placed third, bowling 1181 total pins and averaging 196.8. Aldrich beat out last year’s individual state champion, Hallie Stuart of Black Hills who took fourth overall.
Loflin earned sixth place, knocking down 1087 total pins and averaging 181.1 for the tournament.
“It was an amazing season that would not have been possible without our parents and our athletic director Jeff Johnson and Darlene Weeks for their flexibility and support of our bowling program,” Don Bunker said. “Also, our assistant coaches Rich Bunker, Bob Spahr and Cassandra Chalmers were incredible, coming up with drills, training and instructional videos for our team when we could not get on the lanes.”
Piper Chalmers: 209, 233, 222, 191, 192, 224
Brianna Powe: 194, 146, 140, 190, 203, 157
Jessica Loflin: 208, 168, 207, 183, 182, 139
Cami Aldrich: 214 ,171, 184, 188, 224, 200