Experience typically triumphs over youth. However, the Newton bowling teams can’t allow that fact to creep into their heads on Thursday. Both teams, perennially Newton’s most well represented at the state meet, will need big performances from underclassmen to advance past their next meet.
Heading into regional competition in Knoxville, the Newton bowling teams are beginning to truly round into form. The boys and girls bowled over the Panthers last week, both perhaps with their best performances on the season.
“The competition will be tough for both teams. The scores between Knoxville and us have been very close,” Newton coach Seth Banwell said. “I expect my teams to stay focused and put forth their best effort. Each bower needs to be able to read the lanes after every shot and make the right adjustments. We can’t afford to miss easy spares; every single pin is so important.”
The Cardinals’ youthful boys side is led by a senior in Dylan Van Sickle, who has without any doubt been their most consistent bowler over the past four meets. Van Sickle has averaged a 185 in that span. That average has been boosted because of his outstanding job at Pella where he bowled a combined total of 476 (236, 240).
Banwell has seen improvement out of almost the entire team throughout the season, but Van Sickle stands out with his recent surge.
“The majority of the bowlers have either maintained or slightly improved their average throughout the season,” Banwell said. “Van Sickle is at the top of his game right now.”
The second most consistent bowler for the boys side lately has been freshman Jake Karlzen with an average round of 171. He also put on a big performance against the Panthers with a combined 388 (208, 180). The rest of the team has been playing musical chairs as far as counting scores is concerned. For instance, freshman Bryan McMahon led the team with a total of 402 (198, 204) at West Des Moines, but didn’t score at Pella. This might speak to the overall talent of the team, however, as it has multiple bowlers capable of putting up large numbers.
“The boys have progressively improved the entire season. I believe they are starting to reach their full potential and I have confidence they will bowl well (today),” Banwell said. “I have been critical at practice, focusing on consistently hitting our targets and picking up our spares. I think the boys are optimistic and ready to give 100 percent on Thursday.”
On the girls’ side, they expect to continue to assert themselves just as they have done in seasons past. They have represented the Cardinals at the state meet each of the past four seasons. That impressive streak seems to be in jeopardy heading into the regional meet at Knoxville if for no other reason than the Cardinals’ lack of experienced top scorers on the team.
“The girls team has inherited huge expectations from the past four seasons,” Banwell said. “This has been somewhat of a rebuilding year, since there are only two returning members from the team that bowled at state last year. However, it’s still a very strong team with some incredible bowlers.”
Banwell is right. The team possesses some incredible young bowlers including freshman Madison Humphrey, whose average of 181 has led the team through the past several meets. Despite her being only a freshman, she is ranked in top 10 in the state with an overall season average of 189.
“Humphrey is currently 7th in the state individually in Class 1A,” Banwell said. “She is a tremendous bowler and has performed strong at every meet. She is very dependable on producing big scores.”
Humphrey and senior Bethannie Hughes are going to need to put up big numbers at regionals if they hope to qualify as individuals. Should the team not qualify, only the top 16 individuals from across Iowa will compete at the state meet.
Hughes has been the mainstay for Newton bowling, the epitome of consistency for the Cardinals. This year has been no different for Hughes, who is coming off a big performance at Pella with a combined 339 (179, 160). Her average of 170 over the past month has been second on the team to Humphrey. Newton will need her to step up to the competition yet again at regionals for the team to advance.