Shawnee Heights’ Cayla Bortz wasn’t just fighting difficult lane conditions. She also was fighting an injury.
Few at West Ridge Lanes would have guessed that. Bowling with a tear on the middle finger of her throwing hand, Bortz rolled a 607 series Friday to win the Class 5-1A regional and lead the T-Birds to the team championship.
“It was a little rough,” Bortz said. “I had to resize everything last night, but I was comfortable with throwing.”
Bortz, a junior, switched to wider grips Thursday and spent much of Friday patching her finger. That didn’t keep her from opening with games of 225 and 232 before tapering off to 150 in her final game.
During an afternoon when the entire field battled a difficult oil pattern that was made even trickier because the girls bowled after the boys 5-1A meet, Bortz’s performance was enough to top Seaman’s Brianna Evans by 16 pins.
“She’s a trooper,” said Shawnee Heights coach Scott Mercer, who watched both his boys and girls teams earn state berths on Friday.
Mercer’s girls placed three bowlers in the top 10 and four in the top 20 to defeat Seaman by 148 pins, 2,864-2,716.
Madison Elskamp and Brylee Prockish backed Bortz with top-seven showings — Elskamp taking third with a 534 and Prockish seventh at 491. Kylan Huntley added a 19th-place finish for the T-Birds, who will try to improve on last year’s third-place state showing next week at the 5-1A meet in Wichita.
“Team chemistry is amazing this year,” Bortz said. “We have team bonding all the time. It’s so much fun, and we did amazing today.
“Going into state, this is great momentum. It’s exactly what we needed.”
Mercer was especially proud to see his T-Birds outlast the 12-team field under the testy lane conditions.
“They were bowling on the burn after the boys and it was dicey at times, but they battled through it,” Mercer said. “They worked hard. It was a grind all day long for the girls.
“They had a couple opens and fought through it. They fought harder than I think I’ve ever seen them fight this year. I’m incredibly proud of them.”
The meet was dominated by Topeka bowlers. Each of the top eight finishers were from the capital city, as were nine of the top 10 and 14 of the top 20.
Seaman and Topeka West earned the other team state berths. Brooke Presscott finished fourth and Kishno Bell 17th for the runner-up Vikings. Topeka West was led by Makaila Cowdin (sixth), Jessica Sandgren (eighth), Hadley Overstreet (10th) and Ashley Wilson (16th).
Also qualifying for state as individuals from Topeka were Highland Park’s Irene Rinehart (fifth) and Kaci Vinsonhaler (13th), and Hayden’s Caroline Setter (14th).
Shawnee Heights 2864, Seaman 2716, Topeka West 2482, El Dorado 2420, Emporia 2335, St. James 2243, DeSoto 2149, Highland Park 2143, Atchison 2075, Circle 2051, Hayden 1989, BV Southwest 1878.
Bortz, SH, 607; 2. Evans, Sea, 591; 3. Elskamp, SH, 534; 4. Presscott, Sea, 500; 5. Rinehart, HP, 498; 6. Cowdin, TW, 498; 7. Prockish, SH, 491; 8. Sandgren, TW, 489; 9. Calvello, DeSoto, 484; 10. Overstreet, TW, 480; 11. Fisher, El Dorado, 475; 12. Lawrence, St. James, 472; 13. Vinsonhaler, HP, 471; 14. Setter, Hay, 465; 15. Munoz, Emp, 462; 16. Wilson, TW, 456; 17. Bell, Sea, 452; 18. Stark, Emp, 452; 19. Huntley, SH, 444; 20. Pingry, DeSoto, 440.