Bobcat bowlers turn focus to new season

The Marshalltown boys’ bowling team has put last year’s shortcoming behind it, and is now solely focused on the 2016 campaign.

The reigning Class 3A state champions of 2014 found themselves fourth-place at the 2015 state bowling tournament in Johnston last winter. But with two graduated seniors out of the lineup, Bobcats bowling coach Roger Taylor Sr. isn’t pressing the panic button. In fact, he’s quite excited.

“Every morning when I wake up at 4:30 and get to the Totem Bowl at 5:30, it’s just heartwarming,” Taylor Sr. said. “These kids love the game. They love what they’re doing, and they put a lot of heart into it. We’re probably as strong this year as we were last year, but we’re a little deeper. This year, we gained four freshmen who are extraordinarily good players.”

Marshalltown returns four varsity players from last year’s squad: Junior Josh Arment, sophomore Johnathan McKeever, junior Richie Thomas and sophomore Ray Wiegand. Zachariah Liskowiak is the Bobcats’ lone senior on the boys’ team.

What’s made this team just as good, if not better than its predecessor, is offseason training the Bobcats participated in during the summer.

A few MHS bowlers travelled to Wichita State – the Shockers hold 20 national bowling titles – while another group played in a national tournament in Indianapolis, where there were more than 3,000 student-athletes competing.

It was trips, along with tens of hundreds of frames of bowling, that give Taylor Sr. the confidence he has about the upcoming season.

“I see a lot of devotion and a lot of the guys worked really, really hard this summer,” Taylor Sr. said. “They’re a lot more experienced this year. With a lot of the guys doing major activities over the summer, like big-stage stuff, more exposure to the bigger tournaments and the big events, they’re going to be a lot more comfortable coming into this year and going into state.”

On the girls’ side of the ally, Taylor Sr. said there’s just as much to be excited for there as there is with the boys’ team.

Coming off a 1-8 season, the Bobcats return a heavy majority of last year’s squad, with much more experience than they had coming in to the 2015 season.

“Our girls’ team hasn’t been this strong in probably six or seven years,” Taylor Sr. said. “We will definitely have a winning record this year with our girls, which will get us to state.”

The MHS girls’ team has 13 bowlers out this year, and will play both a varsity and junior varsity lineup. That’s something Taylor Sr. said hasn’t happened in a while.

More so, there Bobcats have spent a great deal of time learning the science and math of the sport, not just becoming better at throwing strikes.

“The regiment they go through, with the weight training and the practice, and how they study the mathematics and physics of the game,” Taylor Sr. said. “That helps them be stronger mentally, to make quality of adjustments. Everything it just a lot more technical, and there’s so much more to learn. The more you know about the whole game entirely, the easier it is to understand and make appropriate adjustments.”

Altogether, between both the boys’ and girls’ teams, there are 57 bowlers out, the most in Taylor Sr.’s tenure as the head coach of the bowling teams. With those numbers, and the dedication that’ve put in during the offseason, Taylor Sr. said there’s a lot to be excited for down at the Totem Bowl.

“How do you eat an elephant? Well, you eat it one bite at a time,” Taylor Sr. said. “We just have to take one practice session, one drill, one meet at a time. I can’t believe it took so long to get here, and now that it is, it’s like, ‘Let’s go.’ Everyone seems excited. We’ve got a boys’ and girls’ varsity and a boys’ and girls’ junior varsity hitting the floor tomorrow.”

Both boys’ and girls’ teams kick off the 2016 season with a dual against Valley today at the Totem Bowl, with first roll at 3:45 p.m.