By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
When the McNary High School boys bowling team hits the lanes in competition, the game isn’t as simple as throw a ball, maybe two, then sit down and wait for the next turn.
The bowling teams compete baker style, which means each player in the five-person line-up throws one ball. If the first leaves pins standing, it’s up to the second man to clean up what’s left and so on.
On one hand, the format pushes the bowlers to excel within limited opportunity. It can also be a recipe for disaster if someone ends up having to shoot 7-10 splits the whole game through.
“They feed off each other. When there’s negativity, it brings everybody down. When everybody is striking, it’s like chum in the water,” said Scott Miller, assistant coach to the team.
One thing that will help the team this year is a large turnout to fill the ranks. It means they’ll have substitutes standing ready.
“We all have another year of experience and were a stronger, more unified, team,” said Garren Stanley.
Each of the team’s eight bowlers–Steven Satter, Justin Blivin, Russ Hurtado, Devon Choate, Kyle Robinson, Jonathan Hall, Scott Bridger and Stanley– are also league bowlers, which isn’t always the case.
While the team practices in the run up the the season, the focus has been on consistency, Satter said.
“It’s a matter of hitting the right board every time up,” he said.
“It’s also learning to adjust our shots when we need to,” added Robinson.
Not every school in the region fields a bowling team, which means there’s a fair amount of flux from year-to-year. This time out, Silverton High School–last year’s state champs–isn’t even putting a team into the mix.
“They decided to quit while they were ahead,” Blivin said.
Typically, the Portland teams have a deeper well of talent and are some of the toughest, although Oregon City and Lebanon high schools are perennial contenders, said Dan Kaplan, McNary head coach.
While the Celts compete with other schools during the regular season, the team’s biggest day of the year won’t arrive until the district tournament in February.
“Our whole focus is getting past districts and then going to the state tournament,” Satter said.
Until then, it’s a matter of chumming the waters as much as possible.