JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas High's varsity girls bowling squad has an opportunity to repeat as Class 5A state champions on Wednesday in Jonesboro.
"We finished as the runner-up in the Class 5A West conference tournament last week," Arkansas High head coach Charlie Bateman said. "Siloam Springs finished in first place. We had to replace a lot of production due to graduation last year, so I'm proud of how our girls competed all season up to this point. I'm also happy our team has a chance to repeat as state champions."
Hannah Phillips led the Lady Backs in the conference meet with a score of 476, followed by teammate Charliegh Wren with a score of 433.
"Last year, we had two of the best female bowlers in the state last year that aren't with us anymore," Bateman said. "That made a big difference as far as team scoring, but after every match this season, we were still winning. They started building up confidence as the season went on and now they know they have a shot at it. We were able to finish second out of 10 teams. They're doing well and they're ready to go."
Kailey Burns, Tori Brown, Lauren Jones, Alexyee Nowlin, Brianna Plant and Kayleigh Williams will also join Wren and Phillips in the state meet for the Lady Backs.
"I'm not sure who the team to beat in the state tournament is this year," Bateman said. "We didn't bowl up to our capabilities in the conference tournament. I'm not sure how strong they are on the Eastside. What we have to do is take care of Siloam Springs. That's the team in the West to beat.
"We're going to have to bowl our best to win it all. The thing about this group of girls is that they aren't looking in the past, they're solely focused on right now. They have to go out and do all they can. I believe they will."
On the boys side, Arkansas High missed the state tournament by 10 pins.
Noah Gladden led all scorers with a score of 565 for AHS, which qualifies him for the Class 5A state tournament.
Josh Green was also selected as an alternate for the state tournament after his score of 513 for Arkansas High and teammate Nathan Smith finished with a score of 496.
"The boys did really well this season," Bateman said. "On the boys side, it's really tough statewide. There's some really good bowlers out there. Lakeside has three guys that average over 200 — that's pretty impressive right there. We bowled as well as we have all year in the conference meet. We just didn't get it all done.
"I know these kids are going to look back and wish we could get those 10 pins somewhere else. I'm really proud of my guys and the season they had. They were disappointed they couldn't go to state as a team."