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Alexandria bowlers head to state

The 2013 Alexandria high school traveling bowling team consists of (back, left to right) coach Chad Meyer, Nick Christianson, Colton Schoep and Caleb Baker; (front, left to right) Andrew Eidsvold, Jacob Schiltgen and Kiana Larson. (Contributed)

It has become somewhat of an annual tradition for the Alexandria high school traveling bowling team to make an appearance at the state tournament.

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Chad Meyer has been the coach of the Alexandria bowling team for 16 years, and he said they have made a state appearance in 10 of those seasons. This year is no exception as the team won all three of their matches at the West Central South conference tournament to earn a spot at the state tournament in December.

The Alexandria bowling team, consisting of Jacob Schiltgen, Andrew Eidsvold, Colton Schoep, Kiana Larson, Caleb Baker and Nick Christianson, will make the trip to the MHSB Varsity State Tournament at Flaherty’s Arden Bowl in Arden Hills on Saturday, December 7.

Alexandria earned the state bid after winning three matches at the conference tournament in late October. They opened play with a 3-1 win against Ortonville, and then took comeback victories against Yellow Medicine East 3-2 and Montevideo 3-1 in the finals.

Montevideo went 15-0 in the regular season conference match play, so the win for Alexandria in the conference finals was especially surprising after they finished 9-6. The tournament was also hosted by Montevideo; basically making it a home match.

“All the odds were against us,” Baker said. “They were at their home center, and they were undefeated all season.”

The Alexandria bowling team is led by Schiltgen, their senior captain who was named MVP of the conference. Baker and Schoep also earned all-conference awards for their play this season.

Schiltgen said it was great to earn MVP of the conference after he finished as the runner up in 2012.

“It’s something I’ve been working on for quite a few years,” Schiltgen said. “It felt great to have that to go along with us winning the conference tournament.”

Earlier in the season, many of the bowlers had trouble staying consistent. But that all changed in the conference tournament, and Meyer said he hopes the team can continue performing at their best at the state meet.

“Last week was by far the best bowling we’ve done all year,” Meyer said. “We need to keep moving forward and get everyone together for one more time.”

The state tournament includes 24 teams and starts with pool play. The top two teams from each pool plus two wild card teams then advance to compete in an eight-team bracket. Last season, Alexandria advanced through pool play into the bracket, something they would like to do again this season.

“We made it out of the pool play last year and got into the bracket,” Meyer said. “I’d like to at least do that again.”

While competing in the state tournament, Meyer said it can be easy to be intimidated by the best bowlers in the state. But his advice to the Alexandria bowlers is to focus on bowling their game.

“Don’t get intimidated, and just go out and play your game,” Meyer said. “Be OK with knowing that everyone is going to think you’re an underdog, and they may overlook you.”

The players also agreed that they would like to make a strong push into the bracket at state. Baker said their strategy will be to leave themselves easy spare opportunities by rolling good shots.

“Just making sure you get all your spares, and you make good shots the first time around so you have an easier spare,” Baker said.

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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