The Alexandria adapted bowling team had already accomplished one of its goals that coaches and players had set for themselves at the beginning of the season by having every athlete on the team qualify for the state tournament.

The Cardinals did that through their regional tournament. As a result, these athletes were able to send a big group to the Brunswick Zone in Brooklyn Park for Friday’s day-long event.

That’s huge, head coach Wade Traphagen said, as the players are there to cheer each other on to help overcome any nerves that might arise with so many eyes on each bowler.

“They did fantastic,” Traphagen said of his team. “The nerves definitely amp up a little bit at state. They get a 15 minute warm-up session, and I think having that they were able to work out those nerves and get those gutter balls out of their system. It seemed like once the competition got rolling and they were able to find their spots and get into a groove, it was very consistent and that’s something we preach all year. When they’re consistent, the results show.”

The Cardinals had good scores across the board as they brought home a couple more state championships in the process.

Junior Crystal Krohnfeldt saved her best for the biggest meet of the season as she bowled back-to-back personal-best games to win a CI singles championship for the girls. Her 457 series score bested the next closest competitor by 19 as she rolled games of 121 and 132 to add to her 102 handicap score.

“I was watching her warmup and I think the first ball she threw was a gutter ball,” Traphagen said. “You could tell she was very tight, but she had her teammates there cheering her on and she was able to relax. Then she was so consistent. I don’t think she had a frame where she hit less than seven pins.”

Alexandria also had a couple of top-two finishes in the team divisions. The ASD team of Brendan Fuoss (473), Ty Burg (414), Joe Mello (409) and Marcus Decker (389) were good from the get-go on their way to a title. They needed to be as they edged the second-place team from Mankato by a total of four pins. Decker and Mello are first-year bowlers in the program and Traphagen was proud of how they handled their nerves on the biggest stage.

“Marcus bowled in the singles event earlier in the day, so he kind of got out those jitters,” Traphagen said. “Joe did fantastic, didn’t show any signs of nervousness and then Brendan and Ty were locked in from the get-go. Brendan, he was very consistent with his stroke and Ty as well. They were right next to each other and they were pushing each other the whole way. We knew the potential these bowlers had, and I feel like they reached their potential yesterday.”

The Cardinals also had a second-place team in the PI Division as Alex Eggert (437), Lily Hjelle (404), Matt Senstad (385) and Ross Minnerath (332) combined for a 1,558. Minnerath was not able to be at the state tournament, but he helped toward the total as they took 75 percent of his average to get his score.

In singles, Mercedes Nelson finished 10th with a 398 in the ASD Division. Hjelle added a 10th-place finish to her day in the PI singles tournament with a 410, while Senstad was seventh in the PI boys singles tournament with a score of 425.        

“It’s a long process that starts in March,” Traphagen said of this team’s success. “The kids’ enthusiasm, it never dies. They’re constantly cheering each other on and encouraging each other. They earned it, making those adjustments throughout the year and seeing that improvement. We saw a lot of improvement in many of our bowlers and then it’s getting hot at the right time of year. We had a lot of bowlers get hot at the right time, and they kind of feed off each other, especially in those team events.”

Traphagen called it a powerful thing to get a total of six teams and at least one in each division to the state tournament. Those team competitions bring out the encouragement and the teamwork that they love to establish in the program.

“That’s huge,” Traphagen said. “Strength in numbers, and it definitely works to our advantage every year. We’re one of the bigger teams in the state, and we always have a good combination of kids.”

The Cardinals have great numbers on the team each year as they try to get between 25-30 kids. Good results at the state tournament tend to follow, and this season was no different. Another testament to the strength of the program and what it stands for.

“I have to give credit to our special education teachers,” Traphagen said. “They do a great job of recruiting from middle school through high school. We try to make the atmosphere as fun and enjoyable as possible for the kids. It’s a fantastic opportunity to be a part of a team, and they make lifelong friends through this bowling program. We just had our alumni meet last week and a lot of those alumni are still hanging out with those people they bowled with on the bowling team five, six years after they graduate. They make those lifelong connections and they’re having a good time. I think that’s one of the reasons why we continue to get these numbers.”  

ALEXANDRIA RESULTS - ASD BOYS SINGLES - Marcus Decker - 24th place, 396

ASD GIRLS SINGLES - Mercedes Nelson - 10th, 398

ASD TEAM - Brendan Fuoss (473), Ty Burg (414), Joe Mello (409), Marcus Decker (389) - first place, 1,685; Sebastian Billings (445), Cameron Arndt (408), Evan Larson (383), Mercedes Nelson (363) - fourth place, 1,599

CI BOYS SINGLES - Daityn Thompson - 21st, 385

CI GIRLS SINGLES - Crystal Krohnfeldt - first, 457; Jerica Bostock - 30th, 342

CI TEAM - Domnick Goor (437), Daunte Houck (430), Robb Erlandson (380), Jonathon Jahnke (332) - 10th, 1,579; Robert Good (427), Daityn Thompson (381), Crystal Krohnfeldt (369), Elton Gruber (364) - T-15th, 1,541; Jett Thurston (404), Dalin Reiter (397), Trenton Tuey (353), Jenica Bostock (324) - 24th, 1,478

PI BOYS SINGLES - Matt Senstad - seventh, 425; Alex Eggert - 15th, 395

PI GIRLS SINGLES - Lily Hjelle - 10th, 410

PI TEAM - Alex Eggert (437), Lily Hjelle (404), Matt Senstad (385), Ross Minnerath (332) - second place, 1,558