Clarke bowling closed its season with one bowler at state and plenty of high hopes for the next season.
The Indians, going 7-4 for the girls and 9-2 for the boys, had a strong showing in Regionals, in large part closing out the season.
On the girls end, the Lady Indians were third with a score of 1,448 at Regionals.
The Lady Indians had Hannah Wisniewski score a 320 (176, 144) and Ryleigh Luce score a 318 (137, 181) to lead the team and finish in back-to-back positions (eighth and ninth) in the Regional field.
Jessinda Davenport bowled a 307 (151, 156) and Alicia Glenn 265 (104, 161) rounded out the top four for Lady Indian bowlers, finishing 13th and 19th.
The girls, despite coming up short of another trip to state, had a strong team for returners from a year ago said Helgevold.
“Last year, we made it to state with just five girls. We didn’t have that sixth one. This year we did have those extras, ... the four returners that came back improved,” said Clarke head coach Dale Helgevold. “... We have that momentum going forward for next year. We don’t have to look at ‘we have to replace this with that.’ We’ve got what we had this year and we can look towards the future and make that one or two steps forward.”
Leaders for the Clarke girls this season was Wisniewski with 2,984 pins. Luce had 2,637 pins this season and had a team-high game of 208.
Wisneiski had the high game for the Lady Indians with a 390.
For the Clarke boys, their season had a strong effort at the Council Bluffs Regional, but fell just off the pace of Shenandoah in a 2,763 to 2,729 first and second-place finish.
“We had a young team. We only lost one senior (from last season),” said Helgevold. “With the ones coming up, one of our freshmen was who qualified for state as an individual. As a team, we missed going for state by 34 pins at Regionals.”
One bowler came out of Regionals, advancing to state. Ashton Giza bowled a 510 (222, 288), taking the outright Regional title to guarantee a state chance while his team came up short behind him.
On narrowly missing the tournament as a team, Helgevold said it’s a chance to learn from how things turned out with such a young team.
“We can look at a lot of things that happened there,” said Helgevold. “Twenty four splits in the first two games didn’t help us. But, that’s just something that happens. That’s one of those learning opportunities of ‘hey, we’ve got the personnel we need, we just need to fine tune them.’ That group of boys has done a phenomenal job of going in on their own and working and getting additional lane time.”
“That’s what it takes,” said Helgevold. “The desire to get to that next level. ... I can see great things in the future for these guys.”
The Clarke boys finished Regionals seeing Jayden Giza bowling a 396 (202, 194) and Austin Gonseth bowling a 384 (214, 170) to trail Ashton Giza to round out the top-3 for Clarke.
Leading the season for the Indians was Jayden Giza with a score of 3,270. Ashton Giza led with the high game of 277 and the high series of 484. Lone senior Taylor Henry bowled a season score of 1,305 with a high game of 188 and high series of 362.
On expectations for Ashton Giza, who has now established himself as a leader in the clubhouse with his freshman season over, Helgevold feels the sky is the limit for him.
“He’s got an older brother that’ll be a senior next year, which I’m expecting him to be that leader. He was that leader this year and did a great job,” said Helgevold. “Ashton, he’s a fundamental bowler that I see continuing to improve. This year he finished plus-200 (scoring) average-wise, and I can only see that getting better every year.
“I feel by the time he’s a senior, and if not next year, he’s going to be one of those kids that across the state people will be talking about. Not just kids, but coaches. ... He’s just got the drive and I think it’s rubbing off on the others, pushing them to their ability levels as well,” Helgevold said.
With COVID-19 restrictions and the possibilities of not having a tomorrow for the season, Helgevold said having a smaller following paired with the unknown for tomorrow made for a unique and flexible season for Clarke.
“The biggest factor was the smaller crowds and smaller meets,” said Helgevold. “We didn’t get into any home meets that were anything more than a dual meet, where in the past we’d have triangulars. ... We didn’t know week-to-week, day-to-day, hour-to-hour whether we would have our meet or have practice. ... We were always ready to be flexible.”
On if the success from the 2020-21 season will spring new interest in potential bowlers going into 2021-22, Helgevold said that’s always the goal – hoping young players join the program and wish to emulate what their varsity superiors were in the early stages of their career.
“That’s what we’re always hoping for, to use the momentum going forward,” said Helgevold. “... With the youth program, ... they always look up to the varsity players. They’re always looking at those varsity kids like ‘man, I want to be that some day.’ Some of the youth coming up, they’ll see that and continue with the program and maybe that’ll spark more interest.”