The Lady Celt bowling team (from left to right) Zoey Nelson, Ashley Mayne, Hope Placencio, Tori Pike and LeAnne Miller are headed to the state competition this weekend after earning a wild card spot in the tournament. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Hope Placencio’s scream of joy prompted her bus driver to halt the vehicle when she found out the McNary High School girls bowling team was head to state this weekend.

“I just dropped my phone and started screaming,” Placencio said. “The bus river thought I was in pain.”

The Lady Celts found out Thursday, Feb. 16, that they would be headed to state competition in a wild card spot, a day after they thought their season had come to an end.

The team took third place in the district competition three weeks prior and had been waiting to find out whether they would receive a wild card space when word came down that they hadn’t. The next morning, another team had to pull out of the competition for lack of bowlers.

“At the district competition, we started out really good, but then we hit a rough patch midway through,” said LeAnne Miller.

The team competes in baker style bowling in which team members roll one ball and, if any pins are left standing, it’s up to a teammate to clean up the lane. Teams can play to their strengths as individual bowlers because they can rely on each other when they’re not rolling strikes on every ball.

By the semifinal round, McNary was sitting between fifth and sixth place, but they pulled together to have their best game of the season, a 188, in the final rounds.

“It brought us together as a team,” Miller said. They ended up missing second place by two spares.

Coach Kathy Kaplan beamed as she recalled the moment.

“They grew as a team and supported one another and, when it came time at districts, I was so proud of them,” she said.

The team only has two returners from last season, Miller and Ashley Mayne. The other members of the teams hadn’t picked up a bowling ball before last October.

“There’s a lot of technique that goes into bowling, but it’s a very good way of getting anger out,” Placencio said.

“It ‘s definitely been more work than I thought it was going to be,” said Zoey Nelson.

The hardest lesson has been learning not to be to hard on themselves, said Tori Pike.

“If you’re too hard on yourself, you end up hurting yourself more than you gain anything,” she said.

The team spent the past week sharpening up their spares and single-pin skills.

“We have to bend our knees and follow through,” Miller said.

“And no bad attitudes,” Mayne added.

The team also includes KayLynn Hatfield and Aura Andrade.

As for what to expect at state competition, Miller said anything goes.

“We’re not going to give up. There may be some people who think we don’t deserve it, but we do,” she said.