WICHITA — Whenever a fellow classmate or a teacher of Travis Sixta asked if the Olathe North boys bowling team was going to do it again, he deadpanned his answer.
By TAYLOR ELDRIDGE
Special to The Star
“If you don’t say yes, then you won’t,” the senior explained. “That shows you’re not confident in yourself. And if you don’t think you will do something, then it’s going to be hard to do it.”
Even though the odds said otherwise, Sixta and the Eagles backed up their talk by becoming the first team, boys or girls, to repeat in the nine-year history of the sport in Kansas on Thursday at Northrock Lanes.
North led narrowly through the first two games, then hammered home its back-to-back Class 6A championship with a 905 third game to cap off a winning total of 2,674 pins — 43 ahead of second-place Haysville Campus.
“Bowling is such a mind game, and you are at the mercy of these pins,” North coach Dalene Moomau said. “If you don’t hit just right, they’re not falling down. There’s nothing that’s going to help it. It’s an incredibly mental and fatiguing kind of sport.”
But the Eagles, behind the steady rolls of Sixta, Horace Paul, Tristan Musick and Drake Rapue, found the consistency that has eluded so many former champions that brought back winning teams.
“When I saw everybody lighting up the lanes with strikes, I knew that we had it,” Paul said. “No problem.”
Sixta finished in third with a 706 series, 33 pins behind the winner, Wichita Southeast’s Derick Holmes. Paul was eighth at 674, Musick was 15th at 643 and Rapue was 23rd at 613.
Lawrence’s Connor Daniels (fifth, 680) and Olathe South’s William Illian (ninth, 661) were the other area finishers in the top 10.
“They didn’t want to be that one-time wonder team,” Moomau said. “They knew they were going to do it from the get-go. I think that constant push and that feeling in their heart is what drove them to where they are today.”
Saulnier wins again
Olathe Northwest coach Kevin Hulsen is still trying to determine if sophomore Mackenzie Saulnier’s 800 series last week at the regionals was the first time a girl in Kansas has achieved such a total.
He’ll have to put that on hold for a few days as Saulnier came through again, this time with a 707 series to win the Class 6A title by 44 pins.
“I can’t picture anything better than this,” Saulnier said. “I never thought I would bowl an 800 and I did. I never thought I’d win regionals and I did. And I never thought I would win state, and here I am. … I’m on cloud nine.”
Saulnier grabbed control after rolling a 266 second game and then finished with the third-best final game score of 225 to wrap up her championship.
“Today I found that I can dig deep and produce when I need to,” the sophomore said. “I have so much confidence in myself now and I feel like that’s the best gift I could ever give myself.”