The Alexandria adapted bowling team is always a fixture at the state tournament.
The Cardinals were at it again Friday as they put six singles and doubles competitors among the top-10 finishers and four teams in that same category.
Sophomore Elton Gruber finished as the CI Division boys singles champion in 2016. On Friday, he came within nine of making it back-to-back titles as Gruber finished second in singles with a 473.
“He just gets hot at the end of the year,” Alexandria head coach Wade Traphagen said. “For whatever reason, I think the lanes are a little faster down there, but you could tell in his first game. He bowled his career best his first game.
Gruber rolled a 160 in game one with his 97 handicap bringing him to 257 for a total. He added a 216 total in the second after a game of 119.
“I remember one frame he got nine pins down and he had the seven pin left,” Traphagen said. “Normally, to get that pin you go to the opposite side of the lane. He goes right up next to the gutter and rolls it straight as an arrow to hug the gutter and get that pin. You knew he was on.”
Eighth grader Robert Goor added a ninth-place finish in CI singles with a series of 406.
Freshman Jenica Bostock paced the Alexandria girls in the CI singles. She finished fourth with a 430, while sophomore Crystal Krohnfeldt was close behind in sixth place at 422. The duo of junior Jonathon Jahnke and Goor took third in the doubles portion of the tournament with an 840 total.
“It was really cool to see because we had Elton, Robert, Jenica and Crystal all on the same two lanes right next to each other, so they were pumping each other up and encouraging each other as they went,” Traphagen said.
Alexandria had three teams qualify in the CI field as Jahnke, Harley Funk, Domnick Goor and Dylan Timm led the way with a seventh-place finish (1,586). Daunte Houck, Dalin Reiter, Austin Ganun and Abigail Neale were eighth (1,576) and Lariah Lien, Krohnfeldt, Nicole Duwenhoegger and Gruber teamed up to take 13th (1,566).
The ASD team of Cameron Arndt, Evan Larson, Sebastian Billings and Mercedes Nelson rolled a 1,649 to take second in the field. It was this group’s first time at state after Alexandria added the ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) division to their program this season.
“It almost didn’t happen,” Traphagen said of Arndt, Larson, Billings and Nelson taking second. “One of our bowlers, it was his first time at the state meet. It's kind of a big stage and there’s a lot of people, a lot of things going on. He kind of got overstimulated and didn’t want to go bowl, but his teammates encouraged him and he did just fine. They did really well as a team.”
In the PI team portion, Stephan McCabe, Lily Hjelle, Alex Eggert and Matt Senstad were sixth after combining for a 1,566.
Overall team titles went to Mankato West in the CI Division, Minneapolis South in PI and Wayzata-Minnetonka won the ASD Division.
Traphagen credited the fact that Alexandria has one of the biggest adapted bowling programs in the state in terms of participation as part of the reason the Cardinals do so well every year at the Brunswick Zone in Brooklyn Park.
“That helps, but it’s like any other sport,” he said. “Some kids at the end of the year just get hot. That applies to bowling as well. I’ve seen that the last few years. They get that confidence up and they almost feel like they’re invincible, and they bowl really well.”
Traphagen said the primary thing they look for at state is for their athletes to be good teammates. That they help each other and cheer for each other. Many of those in the team portion of the tournament had to wait around through the singles and doubles events to get done before their competition in the afternoon.
“They did a good job of supporting their teammates,” Traphagen said. “I think that really helped their teammates’ scores increase, having that encouragement next to them the whole time.”
It’s helpful at a venue like state where so many athletes and spectators in one place makes for the biggest stage many of these athletes bowl on. The Cardinals have found a way to consistently forget about that and focus on bowling at their best.
“It’s pretty easy for some of the kids to get overwhelmed, but just having the comfort of their teammates there goes a long ways,” Traphagen said. “They kind of surprise themselves by how well they do. We had several personal bests and 400 club members. That was just a testament to them being able to focus and having that encouragement from their teammates.”
CI DIVISION - BOYS SINGLES - Elton Gruber - second, 473; Robert Goor - ninth, 406; GIRLS SINGLES - Jenica Bostock - fourth, 430; Crystal Krohnfeldt - sixth, 422; DOUBLES - Jonathon Jahnke/Robert Goor - third, 840; TEAM - Jahnke/Harley Funk/Domnick Goor/Dylan Timm - seventh, 1,586; Daunte Houck/Dalin Reiter/Austin Ganun/Abigail Neale - eighth, 1,576; Lariah Lien/Krohnfeldt/Nicole Duwenhoegger/Gruber - 13th, 1,566
PI DIVISION - GIRLS SINGLES - Lily Hjelle - 27th, 376; DOUBLES - Matt Senstad/Stephan McCabe - 32nd, 715; TEAM - McCabe/Hjelle/Alex Eggert/Senstad - sixth, 1,581
ASD DIVISION - BOYS SINGLES - Cameron Arndt - 40th, 376; GIRLS SINGLES - Mercedes Nelson - seventh, 389; DOUBLES - Evan Larson/Sebastian Billings - 30th, 737; TEAM - Arndt/Larson/Billings/Nelson - second, 1,649