IOWA CITY — There was plenty of angst and pressure permeating through the Marshalltown boys’ bowling team Tuesday during the early stages of the Class 3A state qualifying meet hosted by Iowa City West. The Bobcats, defending state champions, had tailed off after a hot start and were in the midst of an intense battle for one of the two qualifying spots available in the team portion of the event. Instead of a regular meet deciding the state qualifiers, teams competed in 15 Baker games — with the final scores deciding team qualification.
After a talk with head coach DJ Wilder and smart adjustments in the Baker games order from the Bobcats’ assistant coaches, Marshalltown was able to get its mojo and confidence back to finish strong.
A final score of 2,966 pins was enough for the Bobcat boys to win their site and punch a ticket to the state tournament, taking their streak to eight years in a row of qualifying for the state finals.
DJ said he was nervous and the Bobcats were down on their confidence before turning things around when they needed it.
“A little too much pressure and just no confidence,” DJ said. “They gotta be confident about it, and that was my message to them. That was for me the biggest thing, just that mindset of there was no confidence in what they could do. Once they got their confidence back, they were fine.
“We came through.”
In a tight battle, the final margin was 32 points for the Bobcats over Davenport North.
After a break of around 30 minutes, the teams got back on the lanes for the individual qualifier event — a three-game series, with the top eight scores qualifying from the girls and the boys’ divisions.
individual qualifier event — a three-game series, with the top eight scores qualifying from the girls and the boys’ divisions.
Senior Sydney Dannen didn’t want this meet to be the last one of her career, so with scores of 259-200 in the final two games and a total score of 641 pins, she went out and won the qualifying meet to make it to state for the first time in her MHS career.
Beaming with joy and admitting that the moment hadn’t really sunk in yet, Dannen tried to put into words just how big this moment was.
“I’m shocked, I didn’t think I was anywhere close to first,” Dannen said. “I’ve been wanting this since I was a freshman on the varsity team, so the fact that it’s actually here now, I just can’t believe it.
“I’m just glad that I can actually go to state.”
Madison Picket was second on the team in scoring with a series of 470, while Devin Peterson had 436 and Autumn Thompson rolled a 425. Sydney May rolled a 342 and Katelyn Schwartz had a 241. The Bobcat girls also finished sixth in the team Baker scores at 2,124, and DJ said they rolled well. A tough set of opposing teams made it difficult for the Bobcats.
On the boys’ side, four of the eight individual qualifiers were Bobcats — Dru Wilder finished in eighth at 221-198-211–630, Damon Borton rolled into seventh with 214-254-170–638, Aaron Ratte got fourth after a series of 217-207-236–660 and Demitri Ferneau took home the title with 204-238-256–698, beating out Iowa City West’s Strilen Robinson by one pin.
Ferneau said he was just happy to qualify as a team and making the field as an individual was a bonus.
“I was just kinda hoping for team just because we have four seniors and I wanted our last meet to be a good one,” Ferneau said. “After the first game I didn’t think I was gonna bring it back, but I was throwing better in the second and third games.”
DJ said he hasn’t thought too much about how to tackle the state meet’s format change and addition of a separate individual meet — adding that those discussions will come later in the week.
Tuesday was a celebration, a relief-filled afternoon after a long day at the office — after a season full of pressure and high expectations, the Bobcats will have a chance to defend their title.
The five Bobcat individual qualifiers will bowl in the state meet Monday at Maple Lanes in Waterloo. Team state takes place Wednesday at Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo.