The snow couldn’t stop the Valley Center bowlers Thursday. The question was, could Goddard?
Out of the gate, the Hornets and Lions matched scores. Senior Brayden Ruble and Junior Brayden Luedtke knocked down a 214 and 187 respectively to give the Hornets a slight edge in the first. However, in the second the bowlers struggled to see the transition.
“Our first two shots of the second game were splits,” said Coach Phillip Van Horn. “I thought they were just bad shots—and then we had two more and two more. We just panicked and then over corrected.”
The second game saw some of the lowest Hornet dual scores of the year; however, Ruble filled all 10 frames, including 8 strikes, to post a 256. The score ties 2019 graduate Wyatt Jones’ record for individual high game.
“Brayden deserves this honor,” said Van Horn. “I’ve seen him go higher in practice. Obviously, tournaments are a different tamale. When incoming bowlers look at our record board, I hope they ask me about that game. I’ll remember it for sure.”
Even with the monster game, the Hornets found themselves in a whole needing some heavy digging. Junior Cooper Watkins came in with a 230, Senior Quintin Talbot threw a 201, and Senior Wyatt Redburn posted a 187. But even with a strong final round, the Hornets fell short. Ruble won the individual title with a 624, but the team fell by 82 pins.
“If the dual was figured on games one and three, we won by 30,” said Van Horn. “But we can’t pretend that second game doesn’t exist. We lost it. Not taking away from them, but we didn’t adjust quickly and confidently enough. We let them take over and couldn’t recover.”
On the girls side, three varsity Hornets threw series over 400. Led by Senior Chloe Martens, the Hornets started the first game strong against Goddard’s all-senior roster. Martens 160 was trumped in the first round by Junior teammate Emma Anderson’s 183 and freshman sensation Emma Bond’s 171.
“The girls are filling frames,” said Van Horn. “These girl’s success is shrouded only by the fact that our league is so good this year. They’re consistently having multiple girls throwing games in the 160s and series over 400. It’s nice to see a lot of different ones do it rather than relying on the same one or two.”
The Hornets struggled in game two as Junior Lynnzey Young saw the high of 132, but in game three both Young and Sophomore Maddie Hamm posted 144s to end their solid campaigns. While three Hornets–Martens, Bond, and Anderson–each went over 400, they were no match for the undefeated Lions.
For the JV boys, it was a night to remember. Senior Eli DeBaun capped off his dual career with a win. His 522 series was highlighted by an opening 195. Sophomore Robby Clausel, behind a solid 196, capped off a runner-up finish with a 514. Junior Karson Keeler finished strong with a 182 en route to a 463 series. The boys JV posted a 1983 to win by 151 pins.
“Our JV boys have been the emotional heart of our team,” said Van Horn. “Full of encouragement for the varsity boys and the girls teams. They’ve been on the wrong end of some decisions, so I loved seeing them kill it tonight.”
Senior Regan Awtry led the JV girls with a 402 series, making her the forth Hornet lady with a 400 series on the night. Awtry won her highest individual since last year’s Goddard dual, a runner up finish. Freshman Lucy Hooper threw a trio of strong games for a total of 375. While the girls threw some of their highest games of the season, they fell short to the Goddard JV.
“This was a really good dual for us,” Van Horn said. “Not happy we lost, but we play best when we’re excited. Last year, we were juiced for these duals. This year, we’re all about the tournaments. I can’t wait to see these guys take it to the AVCTL meet Wednesday.”
The Hornets travel to The Alley Wichita Wednesday hoping to return to Valley with AVCTL all-league honors. JV bowls in the morning and varsity in the afternoon.