KEOKUK — Great athletes use adverse circumstances to their advantage.
Washington High School competed in the Southeast Conference bowling tournament Friday with crucial members of the team missing. Only five girls and two boys competed and coach Chad Zear was not there as sickness claimed the reason for the absentees.
Riley Lambert used that to his advantage and rolled a 256 game, then a 225 game for a 481 series and the individual conference championship.
“I was keeping track of my score and kind of looking at other scores and at one point I thought hey I might have a chance to win this thing,” Lambert said. And he did just that.
“That was my best so far this year,” Lambert said. “I just told myself before I made it to the meet that I was going to try my best.”
He did that with his best two-game score, although he didn’t match his best single game score of 279.
“I would’ve had a 500 series except one frame I missed a strike when the eight pin did not fall,” Lambert said.
Teammate Ethan Zieglowsky finished third with a 234 and a 210 for a 444 total. Fairfield’s Chance Swain was second with a 203-242—445.
“We were bowling right next to (Swain), so that helped. He kept me motivated,” Lambert said. “I just told myself whatever he did I can do better.”
“A couple of times I missed a four pin,” Zieglowsky said. “If I had picked just one of those up, I would’ve got to second place.”
Zieglowsky had a first-hand view of Lambert’s feat.
“Riley rolled so well I would not have been able to get to first place. I have to give a lot of credit to him. He bowled his heart out. He just took over those lanes. It’s like he had them to himself. I felt good for him. I felt good for me. I felt good for the girls team. It was an all-around good day for both of us boys. It’s good to see him catch his fire late in the season. Especially since late in the season is when things count the most. He is a senior winning conference. That is a big deal.”
For the girls, Dawsen Schluetter had a 110-155—265 to place eighth overall. Taylor Northup scored a 103-155—258 to place 10th. Rylie Swart had 139-116—255 to match Taylor Janecek’s 255 (130-125). Katie Donnolly shot 91-104—195.
“It was kind of weird since there was just us two bowlers there,” Lambert said. “So I just said I’m going to bowl for myself. There was no way to bowl for the team since there was just two of us. It worked because both Ethan and I bowled really well. Ethan bowled really well and I bowled awesome. That was because I stayed into it mentally. I was able to maintain my focus by calming myself. I would get excited when I would throw a certain amount of strikes in a row, but I just focused on where I was throwing and hitting my mark.”
The chance to qualify for state is next.
The state-qualifying meet at May City Bowl, hosted by Cedar Rapids Xavier, has been postponed from Tuesday to 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
“It will be fun if I move on to state,” Zieglowsky said. “It’ll be a great experience. I have bowled in a lot of youth tournaments over the years. Most of the times, I’m one of the youngest ones so I don’t think I will be intimidated if I make it to state. I know I can bowl well so I am looking forward to it.”
Lambert is looking forward to a possible state meet as well.
“Basically I kept it all together in my mental state. I did that by focusing on fundamentals like maintaining the same pace. Whenever I bowl with better bowlers, I do better.”
BOYS TEAM SCORES — 1. Keokuk 2,933, 2. Fairfield 2,799, 3. Mt. Pleasant 2,081, Washington 1,264
GIRLS TEAM SCORES — 1. Keokuk 2,485, 2. Mt. Pleasant 1,983, 3. Fairfield 1,820, 4. Washington 1,813