GHS bowlers preparing for second half of season

GHS bowlers preparing for second half of season

The Greenwood High School bowling teams will resume their season on Tuesday at Midland Bowl in Fort Smith against Alma High School and Thursday against Hackett at Bowling World. Head Coach Chad Mercado and his teams have faired well so far in five matches played in the two-plus weeks prior to the Christmas break. Their season will continue through the remainder of January before their conference tournament and a possible berth in the state tournament in February.

The Bulldogs (3-2) and Lady Bulldogs (4-1) have combined to win seven of their 10 matches thus far, losing only to Fort Smith Southside (girls and boys) and Alma (boys). Starting this week GHS bowlers will essentially repeat their pre-Christmas schedule against Alma, Hackett, Van Buren and Southside in a three-way match, Southside again, and finally, Lamar. Their matches will be split between Bowling World and Midland Bowl in Fort Smith.

“We were at Midland last year out of necessity because Bowling World wasn’t taking anybody [due to] the Coronavirus,” said Mercado. “But this year we were able to go back to Bowling World. That’s our home court, but we’ve got games against Alma and Van Buren at Midland, so we still bowl there too. The oil patterns are different, but as [the kids] go through their warmups they’ve got to figure [that] out.”

Coach Mercado has 14 student-athletes populating his two varsity squads, seven boys and seven girls. The Bulldogs include William Hutcherson, Myles McCain, Jason Sokolowski, Ben Bryan, Cooper McCombs, Ethan Hester, and Kaleb Kennedy. The Lady Bulldogs include Kennedy Holland, sisters Ashlyn and Sara Dungan, Tegan Stimac, Cassidy Childers, Madelynn Cassat, and Faith Hurt. There are several others who bowl junior varsity as well. The coach talked about some of his top bowlers.

“Kaleb Kennedy competed for us at conference and state last year, so getting him back has been huge. He’s our most consistent guy. He’s at the top for us with some 180 and 200 games. Cooper McCombs and Ben Bryan bowled junior varsity last year and they’ve been pretty consistent starters for us averaging about 130 each. I’ve been really pleased with the development of Cooper and Ben.”

Among the Lady Bulldogs, the coach said, “We returned a lot of girls from last year. Riley Golden was all-state for us last year, but she had shoulder surgery, so we lost her and that’s been a hit for us on the girls’ side. But we’ve got Kennedy Holland returning, and then the Dungan sisters, Sara and Ashlyn, and Cassidy Childers. They’re all doing a real good job. Cassidy might be our most consistent girls’ bowler day in and day out.”

In high school competition, six scores are counted for both boys and girls, and each team bowls two regular games against their opponent before moving on to the Baker round of two more games to determine a final winner. Baker play features five different bowlers in a rotation allowing each of the five to bowl two frames during the game. After all four games, regular and Baker, the scores are tallied to declare a team winner.

“We actually bowl a lot better on the boys’ side in the Baker [round] than we do individually,” said Coach Mercado. “It’s a different game, because it’s a rotation. The boys have done a good job, and the girls have too.”

According to Coach Mercado, the Arkansas Activities Association has designated the following teams as members of the 5A West – Alma, Benton, Greenwood, Lake Hamilton, Lakeside, Little Rock Christian, Russellville, Siloam Springs, Texarkana, and Van Buren. Those ten teams will gather at the end of January for their conference tournament to determine which five teams will qualify for the state tournament.

“Last year we went to Conway for conference and to Jonesboro for state,’ recalled the coach. “Conference tournaments [this year] are going to be January 31 – February 4 and the state championships will be February 7-11.” The site of the 5A West conference tournament has not yet been announced, but the state tournament will be held at Fast Lane in Lowell in Northwest Arkansas.”

Asked about his hopes for the post-season this year, Coach Mercado said, “We always want to set the expectation that we want to be in the top five for sure. And somebody like Kaleb Kennedy has a chance to bowl himself into an individual qualifier for state. I think the girls have a great shot qualifying for state. I definitely expect the girls to make it. For the guys, we need Kaleb to have a good day and the others to bowl in the 130s and 140s. They are all capable of doing it.”

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