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LANE KINGS

Marshalltown boys’ bowling team reigns in Class 3A for program’s second state title

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - The Marshalltown High School boys’ bowling team poses with its trophy and banner after winning the Class 3A championship on Tuesday at Cadillac Bowling Center in Waterloo. Pictured, from left, are Aaron Ratte, Dylan Cooper, head coach DJ Wilder, Dru Wilder, Xander Pickett, Demitri Ferneau, Damon Borton, assistant coach Dustin Peterson and alternate Tyler Wilson.

WATERLOO — The tears in the eyes of Marshalltown bowling coach DJ Wilder told the story of the Bobcats’ state tournament.

It’s a story of surprise, pride and a trophy — one that will now sit in Marshalltown’s trophy cabinet.

A Bobcat bowling team consisting of two sophomores and four juniors pulled off a state championship-winning performance Tuesday afternoon at Cadillac Lanes, coming up just short of a school record and taking home the school’s second state bowling title.

The Bobcats won with a score of 3,450 — beating second-place Davenport North’s score of 3,326 by 124.

DJ said it was a day to remember, particularly being able to coach a title team with his son Dru WIlder on it.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Marshalltown’s Damon Borton celebrates a strike during Baker games at the Class 3A boys’ state bowling tournament at Cadillac Bowling Center in Waterloo. Borton finished in a tie for fifth individually with his 225-233—458 series.

“I wanted to coach my kid, I wanted to coach in the state tournament and I wanted to win state,” DJ said. “And I got all three of those things done today. And to know I have one more year to bowl with him and this team, it’s not just going to be Dru it’s everyone coming back. Hopefully we can get back here again.”

Marshalltown started out fast in the first game of the opening series, with five out of six bowlers rolling a 223 or better. The Bobcats have consistently struggled in second games this season, something DJ has harped on multiple times.

But Tuesday the Bobcats held firm in the second game — four bowlers broke 200, and the score Marshalltown had to leave out (396) was from Xander Pickett, who rolled a 255 to tie for the Bobcats’ best game of the day.

The cutoff number being 396 for the Bobcats was a sign they were at their best.

Demitri Ferneau led the Bobcats in the open games and finished second in the individual standings with a series of 234-255–489, breaking through after two difficult years at the state tournament in 2019 and 2020.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

“I thought the lanes were playing a little tough today,” Ferneau said. “But I was just making quality shots towards the end, and I knew what we needed.”

He was followed by sophomore Damon Borton, who followed up a medalist honor in districts with a fifth-place finish at 225-233–458. DJ said Borton’s consistent performances late in the year were huge to Marshalltown stepping up its game.

Dylan Cooper was third on the team with a series of 228-214–442, and Aaron Ratte was fourth with 232-199–431. Dru Wilder finished the scoring with 223-185–408.

Dru said he’d been in a funk in the weeks leading up to the state tournament — and to break through while winning a state championship with his father coaching was a moment he won’t forget.

“He’s actually helped me a lot through it this season,” Dru said. “Yeah, it’s pretty nice.”

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

The Baker games were critical to the Bobcats’ success — in all five, Marshalltown scored at least 214. In four of the five games, Marshalltown had scores of 255, 245, 253 and 255. It was a consistent performance of a level Marshalltown didn’t reach in the regular season, or even at districts in a meet-winning performance there — in fact, DJ singled out that Bakers had been a weakness for the team throughout the season.

So, before the meet, DJ said the team went through Baker games at the end of each practice. The result was a spot in school history for a team that returns all six varsity starters for the 2021-22 season.

This title is special, DJ said, not just because of the achievement itself — but how it was done.

“This year was a team effort,” DJ said. “It was everybody from the top down. To me that’s special. That’s taking nothing away from those teams [2019 and 2020 MHS state teams], we finished runner-up last year and it was a great team. But this one feels special to me for that reason, because I consider them to be my kids.”

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

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