Dodgers sweep team, individual girls state bowling championships

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Team members of the state championship Fort Dodge girls bowling team are, front row, left to right, Mackenzie Sharpe, Alexis Kenney and Leah Sanck. Back: Coach Nick Vinson, Jenna Lee, Alexis Hanson, Kat Flores and assistant coach Rod Riessen.

WATERLOO — The state championship trophy is the proof, but the Fort Dodge girls bowling team is still finding it hard to wrap their heads around their banner day.

The Dodger girls brought home their first team title in school history and the first girls team championship at Fort Dodge Senior High in over 30 years.

“It’s just surreal,” said first-year head coach Nick Vinson. “All the girls had a big role — every single one of them.

“I thought for sure this was a state-qualifying team, but wasn’t sure if we were a state title team. We have great bowlers and they put it all together (on the same day). I’m so happy to see them accomplish this.”

Leah Sanck, who is a junior at St. Edmond High School, also climbed her way into the school and state record books. Sanck was the first girl to win a state bowling crown at FDSH, while setting the state record with her 534 series in the Class 2A field.

“Shock and tears (after winning the state title),” said Sanck, who is the first individual girls champion at FDSH since Jaci Cochrane (state tennis, 2016). “It’s an incredible feeling, and I’m really excited to win as an individual and as a team.”

Sanck bowled a 268 in her first game and ended with a 266 to earn the best score in tournament history and the highest series boy or girl in the tournament field.

“I was a little nervous going in, but I got comfortable with the lanes,” Sanck said. “I did have that sense (of winning as an individual after the first game).

“It was a fun year and the coaches (Vinson and Riessen) gave us great support throughout the year.”

Sanck’s 534 series in Class 2A was 152 pins higher than her average (382).

“Getting the tournament record is unbelievable,” Vinson said. “When she goes out and finds her mark, she’s good at repeating it. Once she rolled that 268, I looked at coach (Rod) Riessen (assistant coach) and said everybody else is playing for second.”

“The first game she had two spares and the second were back-to-back. What she did was extremely impressive.”

The Dodger junior crushed the rest of the field, beating the runner up Jazlyn Whitaker of Clinton (449) by 85 pins. Clinton’s Annelise Dickinson was third (425).

Fort Dodge freshman Alexis Hanson picked the perfect time to have the best game and series of her career. Hanson rolled a 236 and 143 for a 379 total, putting her 10th in the state as an individual.

“She (Hanson) had an outstanding day,” Vinson said. “She always bowls well in practice, but struggled a little during the season. But she really put it together on the big stage.

“This is a really good sign for us, with every kid having a strong performance and five of them returning.”

Hanson’s 236 was 99 pins higher than her average (137) and her 379 total was 105 higher.

The Dodgers (2852) won the team title by 37 pins over Le Mars (2815). Waterloo East (2807) was third, followed by Clinton (2691) and Keokuk (2634).

Fort Dodge was leading the tournament after individual competition (1864), while Waterloo East had an 1840 and Le Mars was sitting at 1808. Le Mars bounced back and took a 50-pin lead after three games of bakers.

The Dodgers closed the championship run, winning the last two bakers games. Fort Dodge trailed by 13 heading into the final bakers contest where they won 227 to 177 for the crown.

“I told them to soak it in and realize this is a big deal,” Vinson said. “This is the first time in 30 years that a girls team has won a state title at Fort Dodge. I can’t remember a time I was so nervous and had so much fun at one time.”

Junior Kat Flores checked in with a 322 (179-143) and classmate Jenna Lee had a 318 (167-151).

Freshman Alexis Kenney had 311 (134-177) and senior Mackenzie Sharpe bowled a 278 (159-119).

Fort Dodge sophomore Kaleb Anderson was making his second consecutive trip to the state tournament and finished in 21st place with a 402 series. He had games of 206 and 196. He was 18th as a freshman.

“Kaleb bowled fine. He has a 201 average and bowled that,” Vinson said. “He struggled a little early to find his mark, but he did. I told him afterward, now we get past the spot of qualifying and compete for the top.

“He said, ‘Coach, my main goal is to get the team down here.’ “I couldn’t be more proud of that.”

Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Dale Weaver was the individual champion with a 512 (216-296). Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson (3175) won the team title over runner up North Scott (3157).