Adapted bowling: Shayla Nelson's state title win leads Alexandria on the big stage

Led by a state title win from sophomore Shayla Nelson in the girls ASD singles, Alexandria had one of the best days of any program at the MSHSL Adapted Bowling State Tournament.

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Alexandria's Shayla Nelson (center), Aaron Rice (left) and Montana Hinnenkamp (right) take a photo at the state meet in Brooklyn Park on May 12, 2023. Aaron Rice placed seventh in the boys ASD singles, while Hinnenkamp placed second in the girls ASD singles and Nelson won the state title in the girls ASD singles.
Contributed photo by Wade Traphagen

BROOKLYN PARK - Before this season, adapted bowling was new to sophomore Shayla Nelson.

And now she has ended her sophomore year with a bang as she set some personal bests and rolled a series of 474 to win the girls ASD Singles title at MSHSL State Tournament in Brooklyn Park on Friday, May 12, 2023.

"It was great to see Shayla have so much success her first year in the program," Alexandria head coach Wade Traphagen said. "She went through some growing pains throughout the season, but she found her rhythm and developed an approach that worked for her towards the end of the season. She finished the season very strongly, bowling four great games in the section tournament, allowing her to qualify for the state tournament in two events. She bowled two great games that day, and I told her that if she bowled that well at the state tournament, her chances of receiving a medal would be pretty high. She bowled with a purpose on Friday, setting her personal best for a single game and series scores, and was rewarded with a state championship. Her resilience made this happen."

Traphagen said resilience and strong work ethic led Nelson to win a state title.

"Our last practice before state is usually pretty laid back, but Shayla looked at it as one more opportunity to fine-tune her game before taking it to the big stage," Traphagen said. "When she was struggling earlier in the season, she could have chosen to take a completely different path; she chose to become a student of the game and find ways to improve her craft. She gained confidence and believed that she could compete with the best. Now her name will forever be in the state record books as being the top singles bowler in her division."


Nelson won the ASD singles by 10 pins.

The student-athlete who finished just behind her with a series of 464 was her teammate, junior Montana Hinnenkamp.

"Montana has been one of our most consistent bowlers over the past couple of years," Traphagen said. "She throws a very straight ball which sets her up for the potential to get some very high scores by making minor adjustments. She was able to make some of those minor adjustments in the singles competition, and that was the difference between getting splits and strikes. She crushed her personal best during her first game of the day, but you never would have been able to tell. She's humble and even-keeled and never let the emotion or excitement of the tournament affect her game in a negative way."

Also, in the ASD girls singles, senior Morrigan Reineke tied for 17th with a series of 389, and junior Lizzie Floden placed 19th with a series of 387.

Alexandria also had top-eight finishes on Friday from sophomore Alexander Billings, and 7th-grader Aaron Rice placed fifth in the boys ASD doubles with a series of 856. Rice also placed seventh in the boys ASD singles with a series of 437.

Billings and Rice placed fifth in the ASD doubles with a series of 856. On top of that, Rice placed seventh in the ASD singles with a series of 437.

"State tournament day for our bowlers is like Christmas morning, full of anticipation and excitement," Traphagen said. "We had several first-time state tournament bowlers, and it was enjoyable to listen to the veteran bowlers tell them about their previous experiences at the state tournament. Throughout the day, we see friendships and comradery develop; it's just a great way to spend a day. The state tournament results were a big step in the right direction for our program. Moving forward, I think this was a big confidence boost for our bowlers, knowing they can compete amongst the best in the state."

In the CI team event, 7th-graders Madison Larson (396), 9th-grader Hannah Johnson (402), sophomore Logan Englund (392), and junior Zeceriah Davidson (372) combined to roll a series of 1,562 and placed ninth.


In the ASD team event, Floden (351), Billings (387), Reineke (347), and senior Joe Mello (407) rolled a series of 1,492 and placed 10th.

Reineke and Mello got to end their Cardinal careers on the state's biggest stage.

"The state tournament is a particularly special event for our seniors," Traphagen said. "For Joe Mello, it wrapped up a brilliant six-year career as a member of our program. He received so many accolades along the way; it was awesome to see him bowl so well in his last two games as a Cardinal. Morrigan Reinke completed her four-year career with many memories made. We will miss her infectious positive attitude and her memorable laugh."

Sam Stuve covers a variety of sports in the Douglas County area. He also is assigned to do some news stories as well.
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