Trojan bowlers hungry for more following great 2011-12
■ Trojans host Mount Pleasant in their home opener Saturday.
Fairfield High School’s bowling program has experienced a meteoric rise in its three-year history, capped by a third-place finish at the boys’ state tournament last winter.
With the fourth season now under way, the defending Southeast Conference boys return an abundance of talent and appear hungrier than ever.
“Our goal is to win the conference title again, to be competitive in districts and get back to where we were last year,” said Fairfield coach Bryan Marlay, who returns alongside Lisa Greenig at the program’s helm. “I think we’ll be competitive, and I think we have a very good chance of getting ourselves in position to be where we were at last year.”
As such, competition within the boys’ squad is expected to be at an all-time high. Seven of the top nine bowlers on the 23-member roster are seniors, and five of those nine were varsity bowlers on last year’s state-placing team.
“We have a great senior bunch coming back. All of them have improved their games, even from last year, and that’s a good thing because I feel comfortable putting eight or nine guys in our lineup,” Marlay said. “With the seniors we have there’s no doubt we can just step back in and get back to that state tournament because that’s what it’s all about.”
The senior class includes twins Ben Hull and Gabe Hull as well as Mitch Goudy; all three were letter winners last winter and have been a part of the program since the beginning four years ago. Jacob Adam split time between the JV and varsity levels as a junior, and he even had a hand in Fairfield winning the conference title last year. A fifth senior, Brady Hammes, bowled JV last winter but should be a crucial member of the varsity team after improving his game immensely in the offseason.
Rounding out the varsity squad at season’s start is a pair of talented sophomores, Andrew Chatfield and Cody Craff. Chatfield made his presence felt immediately in his freshman campaign and ended up finishing sixth individually at the state tournament, and Marlay only sees him upping his scores as a sophomore. Craff also scored on the Trojans’ state tournament team and has shown improvement in preseason practices.
Even more seniors, Randy Andermann and Jake Kessel, provide depth and will be waiting in the wings for a shot at the varsity level.
“They have both been working really hard. Right now, they’re both competing for that sixth spot as well,” Marlay said of Andermann and Kessel.
The Trojans’ lone loss from last season, foreign exchange student Stian Hoff, is a big hit. However, his positive impact is still being felt in the program.
“Stian brought a lot to our program last year with his experience of competitive bowling. He brought that experience about how to handle tournament bowling, and hopefully our kids learned a little about it because I’m real pleased with the way we’ve stepped ourselves up,” said Marlay.
On the 15-member girls’ side, the Trojans welcome back fewer varsity bowlers with the departure of previous state-qualifier Shannan Baker, regional qualifier Amanda Chatfield and varsity mainstay Kaylen Marlay.
Alyssa Chatfield appears ready to lead the team boasting a 167 preseason average, and Kayla Miller, Nicci Mellott, Kristen Terrell and Megan Harris also return with varsity experience under their belts. They’ll be joined by freshman newcomer Madelyn Swan, who has the team’s third highest practice average at 138.
Greenig added she expects Jenna Nelson and Tracy Andermann to battle for varsity time throughout the season.
Unlike the boys, which are poised to dominate from the start, Greenig simply looks for her girls to show weekly progress.
“The varsity lineup will have some ups and downs,” Greenig said. “Average-wise, they look to be where they have been in the past, which should be competitive against some of the other teams, but we will have to continue to improve and step it up a notch.”
The Trojans had their first meet of the season Monday in Keokuk. Their home opener is Saturday vs. Mount Pleasant.