Creston bowling capped off its season with one bowler at the state tournament earlier this week.
Creston junior Kally Burchett qualified for the state tournament after bowling a team-high 379 at the Regional meet in Des Moines. The Panther girls bowled a team score of 2,358.
With a chance to return the girls bowling team for the first since since 2018, coach Ron Pendegraft said he felt there was a chance for the Panthers to get back to Waterloo, but the addition of a strong team to their Regional assignment spelled the end for the team as a whole.
“When we found out the Regional assignments and who we were going to be paired up with, we found out we had several of the regional teams around our area and the state had decided to send a team from eastern Iowa over here to bowl against us,” said Pendegraft. “... We worked for it. We did well at Hawkeye 10 a few days before and for Regionals, the kids were pretty excited. We bowled really well, and even going into the Bakers, we were actually ahead. ... This team, Vinton-Shellsburg, they’re one of the best teams in the state, and it came down to the last couple of games where we just kind of ran out of gas.”
Pendegraft said he felt the girls as a whole bowled well, with three placing in the top-10 of the Regional field.
“I think that was (Burchett’s) best series of the season,” said Pendegraft. “She shot a 379, which was enough to take first and get the automatic ticket, but we had Mica Andreason finish fifth (324), Jessica Peddycoart finish 10th (315). ... I think we’ll have a pretty good team next year. As far as Kally goes, it was kind of unexpected, and I know she was very surprised when she found out she had won. Everybody was pretty pumped and happy for her.”
Once at the state tournament, Pendegraft noted the contrast in energy from previous meets to Monday’s Class 1A meet in Waterloo.
For Burchett, her parents and teammate Mason Clayton joined her on the snowy trip to state, where the setting and ambiance of the tournament seemed to lack the same energy it did in prior years.
“It was quite a trip to get up there with the snow storm and all,” said Pendegraft. “... When we went in Monday morning, ... from the state tournaments in the past it just didn’t seem like it had the air of a state tournament, because of COVID and the restrictions on who can come and watch, and the mask restriction.”
Burchett, sharing the lane with two other girls who had been sent to state as part of a team, had one of the quieter lanes to work on. With the two, Burchett bowled a 49th-best 242 (128, 114).
“There was no excitement on our lanes, it seemed,” said Pendegraft. “The cheering was going on down either side of us, which is kind of a blessing too because there’s not that much of a distraction. But to get somebody excited and pumped up for that sort of thing was a little difficult.
“She’s always been a fun and exciting kid and I’m happy for her, I really am. It was a weird state tournament this year but hopefully we can get back there and change that,” Pendegraft said.
Looking ahead to next year for the Creston girls, Pendegraft said he feels particularly good about a team that will lose seniors Burchett and Katie Buchanan, but will bring back a strong core that can potentially etch itself as one of the top teams in school history.
Burchett finished the season with 2,159 pins collected and a high series of 329. Buchanan scored 1,916 pins with a high series of 243, bowling in 16 and 18 games, respectively.
Among the key returning bowlers will be Mason Clayton and Halle Orr, both of whom were named to the IGCA bowling all-West district second team for Class 1A.
“The girls, we’re going to lose two, but I think with the girls we have returning this could be one of the best teams we’ve had. At least with potential, to be the best girls team we’ve ever had,” said Pendegraft. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
Leading the way in Class 1A’s state tournament was Christina Harrelson of Vinton-Shellsburg, bowling a 478 (225, 253). Clarinda’s Madi Pulliams’ 353 (166, 187) was the high among Hawkeye 10 girls and Lenox’s Chelsey Hoakison’s 347 (179, 168) was the high among area bowlers present. Pulliams and Hoakison finished 20th and 21st, respectively.
Boys rebuild, grow for future
For Creston boys bowling, it was a tough season on the lanes in a year where they continued to work on a rebuild.
Entering the offseason without a state qualifier and down three seniors, the rebuild continues.
“It’s going to be a total start over next year, but we’ve got some kids that are going to be good,” said Pendegraft. “I expect a couple more freshmen to come in and be good. In high school, it’s always rebuilding. You graduate the class and bring in the freshmen and keep working towards it.”
At Regionals, the Panthers came up short with a third-place finish, bowling a collective 2,266. Leading the charge was Nate Wells, throwing a 358 (138, 220) and Aaron Pettit bowling a 343 (200, 143) for sixth and 10th place in the field. Neither qualified for state.
Seniors Aaron and Adam Pettit returned to the program as leaders on the lanes, racking up over 3,000 pins each. Aaron led the boys with 3,290 and Adam was second with 3,030. Aaron Pettit’s 234 was the high game, and his 370 was also the high series this past season.
Dallis Perkins was also a big part of the team as the third senior, racking up 1,893 pins with a high series of 356. Wells, another senior, bowled a 2,415 this season with a high series of 364.
“We’re going to miss those guys. We always miss seniors,” said Pendegraft. “Those guys have been with us for four years. Any given day any of them could be throwing up big scores. ... You always hate to see them go but that’s part of the deal. ... It’s going to be a tough go for the boys next year, as of right now.”
The team was 0-16 in conference matches and was 2-18 overall. Pendegraft said the records aren’t important so long as the team progresses.
“I never worry about wins or losses. Never ever. I only worry about are we improving and are we making adjustments properly,” said Pendegraft. “We take notes, I have them take notes, so they’ll be able to figure it out as well. ... This is why I like coaching the sport, because it’s a different kind of sport.”
Without home lanes for the season, due to Pine Valley Bowl closing up shop in October, the Panthers had to travel to neighboring towns for a practice or a “home” meet.
A disadvantage in the eyes of some, Pendegraft saw it as a chance to get accustomed to new settings every day through the 2020-21 season.
“Every meet was an away meet this year, which is OK,” said Pendegraft. “... Every place is different and when you go to a different place every time, I think you become better at adjusting to the different conditions and I think that helped in the long run. ... Having to go to all these different places, I think it helps with the thought process.”
Pendgraft said he hopes entering the 2021-22 season the numbers can climb as holes open up for opportunity on the boys side and the girls team nears its peak in performance.
“I would like to see more numbers. I really would,” said Pendegraft. “It’s tough because it’s all about individual instruction. ... We have to execute across a wide area and we can only watch on kid at a time. If I have 20 or 30 kids out for bowling, I can’t give them the instruction they really need or deserve. ... Twelve or 13, that’s a perfect number because that fills out a varsity and JV team. ... I’d appreciate anybody who wants to come out.”