WICHITA, Kan. — Cedric Phillips’ greatest competition for the Class 5-1A bowling title Thursday was his own teammate.
Phillips, a junior from Kansas City Washington, won the state championship at Wichita’s Northrock Lanes with a score of 714. Fellow Washington bowler Michael Allen was just two pins behind, with 712.
Phillips said the tough competition in practice paid off.
“It’s very beneficial because we push each other to the max,” he said. “We know what to expect out of each other.”
The boys’ team successfully defended its 2010 state championship crown. Kansas City Washington’s total was 2,729, just ahead of second-place Bishop Carroll (2,679) and third-place Topeka Seaman (2,624).
Carroll led the team race after the first two games. Following Game 1, McPherson was in second place – just six pins behind Carroll. Kansas City Washington was not among the top three squads.
The conclusion of Game 2 resulted in slightly different standings. Carroll remained in first place while Washington trailed by 34 pins and McPherson dropped to third.
“You hope your team comes out victorious,” said Carroll coach Jim Nance. “We came here to win a state title.”
He said the boys “came out red hot,” but the Golden Eagles knew Kansas City Washington was climbing in the standings. Nance explained that Carroll just didn’t finish in the third game. He credited Washington for its performance that secured another state title.
“That’s what great teams do,” Nance remarked. “They finished out the third game.”
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the Wildcats, though. Washington coach Dennis Bobbitt said the bowler with the highest average, Greg Fears, fell in the second game but two of his teammates propelled Washington into the top three.
The Wildcats understood what to expect Thursday since they had experience at state in 2010.
“That was the key for us,” said Bobbitt.
However, Phillips had not bowled at state as a Washington team member. He transferred this year from Kansas City Sumner. Asked if he ever envisioned himself as the state champion, he replied, “Every night.”
“We should come out on top because we’ve been strong all season,” he continued.
Phillips cited the Wildcats’ team motto this year: Strikes fill frames, spares win games. He also credited the Washington spectators, who loudly supported their Wildcats on Thursday.
“The last game we fed off the crowd,” he said.
Rounding out the top-five finishers were Andover Central’s Zachary Doshier, who rolled a 685; Great Bend’s Dakota Conaway, who followed with 680; and Carroll’s Jamel Gunther, who was close behind with 678.
Other area bowlers who placed among the top 10 were Carroll’s Kolby Franklin, who earned seventh with a score of 672; Salina Sacred Heart’s Zachary Sims, who snagged ninth with 664; and McPherson’s Levi Holgerson, who was 10th with 657.
The Carroll boys’ team showed improvement at state after placing fourth last year. Thursday’s tournament yielded other encouraging signs for the Eagle program: The boys’ fifth-place finisher, Gunther, and the girls’ state champion, Hollyann Johansen, are freshmen.
“I’ve got a good, young team coming back,” said Nance.
That is also true for the Washington boys’ squad. Three of its top four bowlers at state are juniors. Bobbitt pointed out that Phillips, Allen and Fears grew up bowling together, and he praised the boys’ parents and youth coaches.
“They have to get in youth leagues,” Bobbitt said of young bowlers. “Kansas City needs to follow the example of what goes on in Wichita.”