Bowlers pin their hopes on state

A group of high school students who have been teammates for years are hoping to bring home a state championship this weekend.

Oak Harbor is sending two teams to the state bowling championships to be held Feb. 23 and 24 at Bowlero Lanes in Tacoma.

Coach Gene Whitley said one of the two teams is replete with members who have been bowling together since they participated in the prep leagues, when many of them were just 8 years old. This weekend’s tournament will be the last tournament they will participate in as a team.

“For a lot of those guys, it’s their final game,” Whitley said. It’s a formidable group as every member on the team has an average of 180 or higher.

Coach Whitley is confident of Oak Harbor’s chances at the state tournament because his two teams qualified from the district tournament that took place in Burlington earlier in the month. During that tournament, which included teams from Anacortes, Ferndale, Mount Vernon and Bellingham, the Oak Harbor teams placed first and third.

While the teams are comprised of high school students, the program isn’t formally tied in with Oak Harbor High School.

The two teams have been practicing two days a week preparing for the state tournament. Their home lanes are at Oak Bowl in Oak Harbor.

The first team is comprised of Josh Whitley, Chris Cooper, Bryan Perrine, Jacob Miller, Mike Reith, Jr., and Andrew Fellows. One member of the team, Jacob Miller, has a perfect 300 game to his credit. Teammates agree they are excited at the prospect of competing in the state competition.

The second team is comprised of Tyler Johnson, Tyler Sokoloski, Brandon Grass, Kevin Sibonga, Nick Merrick, Myan McCardle and Andy Forbes.

The bowling season is a long one for the Oak Harbor teams. It started in late August and it is wrapping up this weekend. Whitley said the teams normally face each other two-to-three times throughout the course of the season.

In the spring, team members spend time washing cars and doing other fund-raisers to help pay for the transportation and other costs associated with bowling. When August rolls around, it’s time to get rolling.

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