Viking Bowling Teams Steal Double State Champion Title

On Friday, Mar. 4, 2022, both the boys and girls varsity bowling teams returned yet again to the state championship meet in Wichita, KS, where both teams secured a state title.

For the 2021-2022 season, the boys and girls bowling teams dominated meets, proving themselves as major competition to opposing schools. With the Vikings’ incredible lead throughout the season, they committed themselves to improvement and teamwork.

After finishing the 2020-2021 season fourth at state, first in regionals, and first in Centennial, the Lady Vikings geared up to start their season at Gage Bowling Center on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022. This first meet would be the beginning of their 10-1 record and the road to becoming state champions.

Throughout the competitive season, the Lady Vikings overcame all the struggles that came their way, staying committed to overcoming those obstacles and playing the game to their fullest potential.

Senior Makenzie Millard said one of the struggles she overcame was her mentality, expressing, “My mental game has gotten way better. I feel like if I throw a bad shot then I am fine, and I shake it off and don’t bring off negative energy to the team.”

As well as focusing on tackling the struggles and improving themselves, the team focused on teamwork and working together.
“As the season went on, our bond with each other really grew and we became a real team,” Sophomore Cheyenne Turkin said.

On Thursday, Mar. 3, 2022, the girls headed down to Hutchinson with the boys’ varsity team to practice. After checking in at the hotel, the team headed back to the lanes, traveling to the state meet location at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, KS, to put in some extra house of practice before the big meet the next day.

As the team laced up their shoes and prepared themselves for the three American 10-pin games and four Baker games, the nerves began to set in.

During the first three frames of the American games, Turkin became nervous and left spares open, causing her to get down on herself. However, five-year bowling coach, Bob Benoit, saw her feeling low and gave her a few words of encouragement.

“He told me to leave those frames behind me and put a smile on my face, and just have fun. After that I started to do a lot better and had so much more fun,” Turkin said.

After seven games the girls were finished and huddled around each other to wait for awards. Once the announcer called out second place, the Lady Vikes sprung into the air jumping up and down, hugging each other.

“I was in shock. I couldn’t believe we actually had won,” Turkin said.

The girls took first at state with a total of 3137 pins, beating Bishop Carrol by 29 pins, and clinching the state title. As an addition to their state title, the girls also previously won first Centennial league and first in regionals.

All six team members contributed to the success at state. “When one player was down and not throwing good, someone would come up and throw a big game that we needed. If I had to choose one person who impacted our team, it would have to be Makenzie Millard. Mackenzie consistently threw big games and that really helped us in the end,” Turkin said.

Individually, Millard took second with a 697 while Turkin placed fourteenth with a 590. There were a total of 96 girls competing.
After five years of placing at state, the girls finally clenched the state title. Millard has been there since the team’s second place win at state her freshman year, and has acted as a team leader to younger players on her team this year.

Her last words to her team as she advances to bowl at Peru State in the fall of 2022 is, “I know they will do amazing things and I am glad this is how we ended the season. I couldn’t be more glad to gain five new friends and life-long family. I will remember this season forever.”

After taking third place in state for the past two years, the Vikings boys varsity team built themselves on determination and perseverance in order to reclaim the state title they once held three years ago.

Finishing the regular season with a record of 7-2, with some particularly tough games against Lawrence High at the Free State meet on Jan. 14, 2022, and Washburn Rural at the Centennial League meet on Feb. 16, 2022, the Vikings battled their way through the lanes and into the state competition.

From the beginning of the season the team displayed a strong bond, which became a key element in their success on the lanes. Adding to their already strong bond, the team made standout memories on the bus rides to meets, along with their team dinners together.

This dedication to growing as a team helped them on their journey to state. Junior Zander White says, “As a team, we all grew closer together as individuals. We weren’t just bowling for ourselves, we had a bigger picture in mind – in winning it all.”

Practices played an important role in improving the team’s skills, with bowling coaches Bob Benoit and Marc Anderson helping add onto their skills and improve themselves as bowlers.

Senior bowler Jack Easum said, “I changed over time and at the start, I was in a slump and not happy with my performances, so the season really helped me practice on what I needed to do and get my game back where I wanted it to be.”

Just like the girls, the boys wanted to improve upon their mental game, preparing to pull themselves out of negative thoughts if they got a bad ball or frame.

“I have grown in my mental game, and all together as a bowler. If it had not been for my amazing coaches and teammates, I would not have developed into the type of competitor that I am now,” White said.

After facing some tough competition, the Vikings took second at Centennial this year, but put it past them, focusing on the upcoming state competition.

On Mar. 3, 2022, the Vikings traveled with the girls’ varsity bowling team down to Hutchinson to put in some extra hours of practice before the next day’s meet at Northrock Lanes in Wichita, KS.

As the hours got later the boys finished practice around 11 p.m. at night and returned to the hotel for a good night’s rest before they would play at 9 a.m. the next day. As the state meet inched closer, White expressed that he tried to keep his head clear the day before the competition and the day of.

“My key was keeping my head clear. I flat out wasn’t thinking at all. If you are stuck on the thoughts of pressure, you will flat out kill yourself when it comes to competition day,” White said.

During the meet, the entire team committed themselves to work hard, with White stringing strikes to help boost the team during the Baker games, while Ethan Burns gave a boost during the tenth frame.

Despite trying to keep a clear mind, the competition proved difficult in some areas, but the Vikings were able to suppress those thoughts after some encouragement.

After the second game, the Vikings started to get down on themselves, with White describing the feeling as ‘another year they wouldn’t grasp the title.’

With the fans from Kapaun, a major competition of Seaman, creeping into the head of the boys with their intense cheering for their team, coach Bob Benoit noticed the change in demeanor and started to motivate his team.

White said, “I credit our success very much in part to what he [Benoit] told us before we ran down first place in baker. If he had not known what to say, we very likely would have been in our heads longer than we already were.”

Once the lanes shut down and the scores were being counted, the Vikings hoped that they made it to a title. Seaman was announced as the first place winner with a total of 3483 pins, beating Goddard Eisenhower by 11 pins, and beating their main competition Kapaun Mt. Carmel.

This came as a complete surprise to the Vikings, “We were expecting to be close with Kapaun, but hearing their position getting called off as third place gave us all a shock. When we found out that we won, we all lost our minds. The moment was surreal,” White exclaims. White placed 17th individually with a 643 series.

Easum expressed similar feelings, saying,” I was just thinking about how we came back so much to win. Also, how we were kind of underdogs to Kapaun Mt. Carmel from last year. It felt really good to beat them.” Easum placed 18th individually with a 643 series.

After the success of the 2021-2022 team, members of the bowling team expressed their last words as they move on into the next season or to graduation in May.

As Easum departs to graduate, his words to his team were, “Keep your head clear and stay behind the line and you will continue with the success.”

With seniors leaving the team this year, younger members express their appreciation for the seniors and their hope for the future of the Seaman bowling team’s success.

White concludes, “I would like to wish our seniors well, and to say thank you for the last effort that they gave us. I am hopeful to make another run at state in my upcoming senior year, but we’ll just have to wait and see how things turn up.”