Making the state finals in any sport is never easy. Just ask past members of the bowling program at Washington.
The Hatchets have had individuals reach state finals in the decade-plus history of the sport, but despite successful runs, those state finals have been elusive at the team level.
That may change Saturday at Greenwood as the Hatchets¹ boys team compete in a 12-team field with six making the trip the following week to Lafayette.
Washington coach Kevin Bowen knows that task is never easy, but he likes his group¹s chances.
"As always the competition gets tougher the higher up on the stepladder you get," Bowen said. "If the guys continue to bowl like they have the last two weeks, there¹s a very good shot we could make that top six." The Hatchets won their second consecutive regional crown in Evansville last Saturday, and Bowen notes his Hatchets have hit their stride at just the right time. But he believes there is something else at work this winter.
Nathan Sult carried the highest individual average into the sectional at Jasper the previous weekend, but missed qualifying for the regional as an individual by six pins after leaving 10 10-pins while flushing the pocket 25 times in 31 shots.
Sult and Chase Ragens, who qualified with Richardson from the sectional as an individual, have been important cogs in Washington's tournament success.
"Both Chase and Nathan have done a really good job of leadership with the team," Bowen said. "Nathan has been really driven to help drive the team to get as far as it can." Richardson struggled with high school competition as a freshman last winter, but has worked on his physical and mental game since. Bowen believes the work is obvious to see.
"Wes has stepped up his game,² Bowen said. ³His ability has shown through our expectations. Wes doesn't need to change much on challenge conditions." Burton comes from a bowling family that included older brother Kyle who has bowled at Vincennes University.
³Kelsey has been one of the kids in the program here (Laurel Lanes) for over a dozen years," Bowen said. "She really stepped up this year as a senior captain of the girls team. She has led by example." Bowen believes his team is feeling confident as they enter the final step before the state championship.
"I think everyone is confident," Bowen said. "I think the guys are confident, and our individuals are as well."