Marshalltown bowlers finish season undefeated with win over Dowling

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior Ray Wiegand, left, enthusiastically celebrates with senior Richie Thomas during the final Baker game in the Bobcats’ win over Dowling Catholic in the regular season finale at Wayward Social on Thursday. With the win, the MHS boys finished 14-0 in the regular season.

When the Marshalltown boys bowling team stepped onto the lanes at Wayward Social on Thursday night, it did so looking to finish the regular season the same way it had finished every other meet this season. With a win.

Standing between the Bobcats and a perfect 14-0 record was Dowling Catholic, but it turned out the Maroons were no match for the onslaught the MHS boys can bring, as they downed Dowling 3,303-2,555.

Senior Joshua Arment, who finished his final regular season meet as the top Bobcat with a series score of 483, said he couldn’t have planned this last dual any better.

“I think things went pretty well, it was a lot of fun,” Arment said while gathering his equipment after the win. “The scores were pretty high, and that’s always good, and we always have a lot of positive conversations going on with the team. I think that everything is going right in terms of team chemistry and in terms of what’s going on down the lanes, which is really all I could ask for on my senior night and one of my last times here, it will be good to leave it off on this note.”

While Arment was the top score, every Marshalltown (14-0) bowler showed well against the Maroons, as for the second time this season every Bobcat finished with a series of 400 or better.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior Jonathan McKeever sends his bowling ball down the lane during his individual series in the Bobcats’ win over Dowling Catholic at Wayward Social on Thursday.

Junior Ray Wiegand rolled a 473 to finish second on the team, followed by Lucas Kramer in third with a 454, Jonathan McKeever in fourth with a 440, Richie Thomas with a 420 for fifth and rounding out with Kamrin Chizek’s 417.

Bobcats head coach Roger Taylor Sr. said his guys benefited from returning back to familiar lanes after being on the road the last thee duals.

“Our last meet was at The Great Escape in Pleasant Hill and we bowled well there but the lanes weren’t quite what we were used to, so they came here and they were in their comfort zone,” Taylor Sr. said. “Obviously it’s home field advantage, but it just felt like home cooking.”

What was most striking about the way the Bobcats won on Thursday evening was how much fun the team had while doing it. One would figure after winning 13-straight duals, the MHS bowlers would be bored with victory, but anyone in attendance at Wayward Social can speak to how fired up the guys were for every pin knocked over.

Wiegand, one of two captains along with Arment, was bouncing around during the final Baker game of the day and cheering his head off for his teammates, but the team also shows a lot of respect towards their opponents. Taylor Sr. said that fire and passion yet good sportsmanship is something he tries to instill in every one of his players.

“I don’t want them to look a gift horse in the mouth, I want them to maintain their composure,” he said. “It’s important to be a class act to the people we are bowling with or against, I don’t ever want them to be ungrateful so I try to preach that a lot and let them know that 20 years ago we didn’t have this.”

As for how his guys are feeling heading into postseason play, Taylor Sr. said he isn’t worried about the Bobcats showing any dip in their play, as they know the quest isn’t over.

“A lot of the guys are still hungry, the season’s not over yet,” he said. “We’ve got two more big victories we need to get and that will put us at 16-0, and that’s what want.”

Arment, who along with Thomas was a freshman on the 2015 team that brought home a state title, said he is almost more focused now than ever and he will do everything in his power to win his second state championship.

“This is extremely important for myself as well as for Richie, being that freshman year we had won and it was cool, but now it’s time to prove we can do it again in our last shot,” Arment said. “Practice is truly the only way we are going to get to where we want to be, because we have a pretty good base right now but we definitely have room for improvement.”

Luckily, Marshalltown has quite a few weapons at its disposal, as even most of the competitors for the Bobcats junior varsity team could be strong players on other varsity teams around the state. Taylor Sr. said it’s amazing how many of his guys can show up and roll fantastic scores on any given day.

“In the Baker games, at the end of any game we can bring in anyone from junior varsity on up, so I plan on in the postseason not only having the six guys, but I might take two or three more guys that are deserving to at least be there in uniform with their equipment, because if all else fails I at least have that option,” Taylor Sr. said. “I have said this to a lot of people all season that I am blessed to be theri coach because we literally have 10 or 12 guys that can come out here and pop a 500 series. That’s insane.”

It’s been clear that the Marshalltown boys are the team to beat this season, a fact that isn’t lost on the Bobcats. Taylor Sr. said teams will be gunning to end this perfect season his guys have going, but as long as they keep focused that will be a tough task to pull off.

“We have loud and bright shirts, but there’s a target on our backs,” he said. ” If we keep facing the pins, we are not going to see who’s chasing us, so we are going to go for it. My job now is to keep the ship afloat and not run ashore and sink it, so I am going to do my best to maintain positive thoughts.”

Marshalltown is off for the next two weeks now to prepare for the CIML Iowa Conference meet on February 8 at Merle Hay Lanes in Des Moines.