McNary’s bowling team, (back row) Aaron Seth, Scott Bridger, Nathan Ganieany, Jonathan Hill, Karl Halvorson, (front row) Josiah Henifin, Nick Blythe and Adam Teal, are poised to make another run at the state title this season. Not pictured: Tim Kiser and Kyle Hogan. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

McNary’s bowling team, (back row) Aaron Seth, Scott Bridger, Nathan Ganieany, Jonathan Hill, Karl Halvorson, (front row) Josiah Henifin, Nick Blythe and Adam Teal, are poised to make another run at the state title this season. Not pictured: Tim Kiser and Kyle Hogan. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

With a potent mix of seasoned and new talent, the McNary High School boys varsity bowling team is set to outdo themselves this season.

“Last season, we only missed the finals of the state tournament by a few pins and, this year, we’re better,” said Dan Kaplan, McNary head coach.

The Celts are anchored by an experienced trio in Scott Bridger, Aaron Seth and Nick Blythe. Bridger rose to prominence after winning a gold medal at the State Games of America in 2013, Blythe bowled his first 300 game at the tender age of 13 and Seth basically grew up at Town & Country Bowling Center. His grandfather, Don Lebold, is the owner.

In the team’s first pre-tournament leading up the district competition, it placed third, but that was actually better than Bridger thought they would do.

“We were missing a lot of spares that day, so getting third was kind of a surprise,” Bridger said. “Our striking ability was pretty good, but we need to clean up the spares in the tournament this weekend.”

Senior Jonathan Hill said the team made it through despite some lulls around the middle of the tournament.

“The day started out well and then we dropped off, but we pulled through in the end,” he said. “This weekend, I want us to show that we have the mental toughness to get first place.”

The Celts play again in Molalla Sunday, Dec. 7.

In high school bowling, five-person teams bowl baker-style meaning the first bowler will bowl frames one and six. The second bowler will bowl frames two and seven and so on, with the fifth bowler bowling frames five and 10.

One result of the team’s showing last season was a hearty turnout for the team in November. Among the newcomers are senior Nathan Ganieany. Even though he had never bowled competitively before, Bridger took it upon himself to get him up to speed.

“Scott and Nick and I have been bowling Monday through Thursday every week. From what they tell me, my game has improved a lot,” Ganieany said. “I hung around with the team last year, so that made it easier to feel like part of the group from the start of the season.”

Bridger also has high hopes for Josiah Henifin.

“Josiah is a sophomore and it’s crazy how much he’s improved,” Bridger said.

In addition to their talent and work ethic, the team has another thing going for it this season. Town & Country will host the district tournament in January and the state tournament will be held at Salem’s Firebird Lanes.

“Before state, we’re going to be sure to go down to Firebird and get in a few games on their lanes,” said Blythe.

Even in the early going, the team is hitting on all cylinders.

“They’ve gotten a lot more confident in themselves and each other. They feed off each other. The newer kids are just like sponges,” said Scott Miller, the team’s assistant coach.