Karissa Shiflet entered this year’s Class 1A/2A/3A state bowling championships as the defending champion.
Though she didn’t wrap up her high school career with another title, the Kennewick High School senior was OK with her fourth-place finish.
“Not every person’s going to win every year,” Shiflet said. “That’s no reason to be upset. You’ve just gotta keep going.”
Shiflet was the top Mid-Columbia placer at state, and she’s the Tri-City Herald’s All-Area Bowler of the Year for the second season in a row. She is joined on the first team by Kennewick teammates Danielle Gonzales and Daicee Singer, who helped the Lions complete their first undefeated regular season; Hanford’s Kendal Saueressig; and Pasco’s Karla Garcia.
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Teresa Chavez, whose Bulldogs took third in the Class 4A state tournament, is the All-Area Coach of the Year.
Shiflet, a bowler for nine years, has a different perspective on the sport since she joined Kennewick’s varsity team as a freshman.
“I went in at first, and I didn’t like bowling as much,” she said. “Now it’s more fun to do, and it’s something more serious. I really enjoyed meeting all the new people and watching my teammates progress. They weren’t as good at first, but now they’re bowling 180s, 190s. It’s fun to watch them get better and better.”
They had a good role model in Shiflet, who was named the Mid-Columbia Conference bowler of the year after averaging a league-best 192 over 30 games.
Now it’s time for Shiflet to turn her attention away from bowling and back to the softball field, where she stands out at the plate and in the infield.
She will play one more spring for the Lions and then head to Concordia University in Portland on a softball scholarship, but she’s not leaving the lanes behind forever.
“I still plan on competing in my spare time in Portland,” she said. “I may go pro in the future. There’s no reason not to try it. I’ve been told by many people that I’m good enough.”
Shiflet appreciates the guidance she has received from Kennewick’s coaches over the last four years.
Though the Lions missed the state tournament in 2011 — a year after finishing second to Emerald Ridge by 18 pins — they returned to place fourth in 2012 and fifth in 2013.
“They take all their time to get better and go to coaching clinics,” Shiflet said. “They work hard for us, and we can’t thank them enough for that.”
Chavez has dedicated nine seasons to the Pasco squad, and she finally had a team that meshed in and out of the bowling alley. Several bowlers stepped up at the right time to lead the Bulldogs to their best-ever state finish.
“Even when my seniors didn’t do so well, they didn’t bring the team down,” Chavez said. “That was huge at state. They were still able to stay together, and the parent support was huge this year.”
Reaching such heights might not have seemed likely in the program’s early years, when fewer than 10 girls came out to bowl. But the turnout has more than tripled under Chavez, who also coaches soccer and teaches fitness at Pasco.
“When I was taking over the program, it was more of a social sport, but I said, ‘This is not how we run things,’ ” Chavez said. “I just really took it on as a competitive sport, and we’re here to win, and we’re here to practice. It’s not going to be easy. It’s all paid off. My girls are very disciplined, and there’s a lot of sportsmanship.”
MVP: Karissa Shiflet, Sr., Kennewick
Danielle Gonzales, Sr., Kennewick
Daicee Singer, Jr., Kennewick
Kendal Saueressig, Jr., Hanford
Karla Garcia, Sr., Pasco
Coach of the Year: Teresa Chavez, Pasco
Maddy Serrano, Jr., Pasco
Xochitl Garcia, Sr., Kennewick
Mariko Sital, Sr., Pasco
Neydeen Martinez, Jr., Pasco
Mekenzie Richardson, Fr., Richland