The Sentinel-Record

Student-athletes bowl with passion at 5A-West tourney

- KRISHNAN COLLINS Sports editor

Bowlers from Hot Springs, Lakeside and Lake Hamilton competed in the Class 5A-West conference tournament Wednesday at Central Bowling Lanes.

Students, fans and families from across the state packed the venue to the brim to watch the high schools battle for the best scores.

Bowlers expressed their emotions through roars toward their teammates when they made a strike, or at times walked back to their teammates dejected after a tough shot. Hot Springs senior Xavier Parker showed plenty of emotion on the day.

“I did pretty well,” Parker said. “My first game I finished with like a 202. I came around. I started off a little weak. My second game I could’ve picked it up a lot more. I think I scored a 150. But I ended well. I ended with a strikeout in the 10th frame. In my third game, again I started off really weak until the fourth frame. Then I really started to pick it up. I think I had no open frames since the fourth frame of the third game. Overall I did pretty decent.”

Parker said the Trojan team did well at the conference tournament.

“We scored over a thousand the first two games,” he said. “That’s really big. That’s something that we try to look forward to. … As long as everyone can average around a 170, that’s really good for us as a team.”

This season marked Parker’s third year in bowling. Parker started bowling when his brother was a senior and Parker was a sophomore because Hot Springs’ team needed bowlers.

Parker and his brother did not know much about the bowling team, but the entire family quickly fell in love with the sport.

“It’s been the best thing ever,” Parker said. “I love bowling. … I even got my whole family into it. We all bowl very competitiv­ely now. I have improved a lot. I am able to score 200s pretty easily.

“I mean not every game is going to be an over 200 game. I can feel confident on making adjustment­s that I need to. If I need to switch up my ball I feel confident in that. I definitely have a better sense of what I need to do when things aren’t going my way.”

Lakeside senior Timothy Hays just started bowling this season.

“My friends were just asking me to join,” Hays said. “I kind of thought of it as free bowling. Now I actually take it way more serious than I used to. I just like having something to be passionate about. Just really finding something to be passionate about. Give me something to do. Stay busy.”

Hays said he bowled better than he thought he would at the conference tournament. In a short time as a bowler, Hays already improved his form.

“I think I improved a lot,” he said. “I started off straight bowling and now I use two hands. So I feel like I’ve improved a lot from form to just how I bowl all together and mentally, too.”

The Ram senior started the day

slowly but improved throughout the games. Hays emphasized the importance of the mental side of bowling.

“There’s just the pressure from what’s going on around you,” he said. “Also if you over hook or under hook you have to go a certain way according to the lane. Just thinking about that while also just keeping control of the ball and just everything, it’s all mental. If you overthink it, one wrong thing could mess it up.”

Lake Hamilton senior Christian Gunter said the Wolves did a lot better in the conference tournament than they did in previous matches.

Gunter just started bowling around a year ago and quickly got more serious in the sport.

“In terms of progress, I’ve gotten good progress really fast,” he said. “I’ve been keeping up, getting better. Just keep practicing.”

Gunter started bowling in the summer for fun and learned different techniques to improve his game.

“Then I learned how to hook the ball,” Gunter said. “That’s really what sparked it. Someone that worked here (at Central Bowling) offered me a ball so I bought it. I was bowling really good with it so I bought my own stuff. That’s really what took off.”

From newbies to experience­d veterans, a wide variety of bowlers competed in the conference tournament at Central Bowling Lanes Wednesday.

It remained clear that no matter if one bowled above 200 or around the 100 mark, the student-athletes certainly enjoyed the competitio­n.

“I’ve tried other sports and they didn’t really work out for me,” Gunter said. “This is the only sport that really worked out. Just the satisfacti­on of hitting those good strikes. Then like hitting your shots where you want them to go. That feels amazing.”

 ?? The Sentinel-Record/Krishnan Collins ?? ■ Hot Springs bowler Xavier Parker, center, celebrates with teammates after bowling Wednesday in the Class 5A-West conference tournament at Central Bowling Lanes.
The Sentinel-Record/Krishnan Collins ■ Hot Springs bowler Xavier Parker, center, celebrates with teammates after bowling Wednesday in the Class 5A-West conference tournament at Central Bowling Lanes.

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