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Maize High School bowlers Jessica Ayres, left, and Leela Yahya help bring their team to a first place win in the KSHSAA 6-A State Championship Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012.

Maize High School bowlers Jessica Ayres, left, and Leela Yahya help bring their team to a first place win in the KSHSAA 6-A State Championship Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012. Mike Hutmacher/The Wichita Eagle | Buy this photo

Maize girls win Class 6A bowling title

Published March 1 at 9:41 p.m. | Last updated March 1 at 9:42 p.m.

Heads bowed, the girls bowlers from Maize and Olathe North joined hands in their respective huddles and strained their ears through the silence filling Northrock Lanes moments before their fate was revealed.

“You’re so worried,” Maize sophomore Arianna Perez said. “Your stomach is just.…”

“Probably turning over our breakfast,” teammate Leela Yahya finished.

Not even adding up the scores herself could lessen the suspense for Olathe North coach Dalene Moomau. Maize had won by her count, but a glimmer of hope returned when the top-20 medalists were announced.

“We had four up there and they only had two … could it be possible the score is wrong?” Moomau thought. “We were still hoping that there was a mistake.”

The silence was finally broken, confirming what Moomau feared — no mistake had been made. Maize won the Class 6A championship and all that separated it from Olathe North was six pins: 2,562 to 2,556.

“That’s one spare,” Yahya said. “If any of us would have missed one spare that we had made, that could have been the difference between a state championship and not.”

While Maize fulfilled its goal as a team, Campus senior Courtney Hill lived out her fantasy of becoming the best bowler. Hill rolled a 266 her final game to make up a 68-pin difference and win individual honors with her 688 series.

“I’ve just always wanted to be that number one person and I’ve been dreaming about that, as weird as that sounds,” Hill said. “I am in shock right now. I’m so excited and so happy.”

Maize appeared to remove drama from the team race after the first game’s scores rolled in. The Eagles posted a 930 score, 122 pins better than second, and had four of the top five scores.

But it was impossible to ignore the pandemonium at the other end of the lanes. Olathe North was surging and its contingent screamed even louder when the scores updated to show North ahead of Maize by two pins.

“We could feel them coming, the noise and the yelling that was coming that way,” Maize coach David Walker said. “We knew we couldn’t rest. It came down to that third game.”

Perez and Yahya were the constants — they never dipped below 200 — and the Eagles needed contributions from their other bowlers. Karlene Winegarner (584), Danica Walker (580) and Alyssa Cruz (546) all finished outside the top 20, but bowled well enough to offset Olathe North’s higher finishers.

“That’s what you call riding the wave,” Walker said. “All of them were up. They fed off each other, having all of them bowling like that keeps you up on a wave of momentum.”

East collected the third-place trophy led by Kayla Steelsmith, whose 608 series placed her 14th. Hutchinson’s Shelby Harms finished third individually and Heights’ Shelby Burns was 10th.

Olathe North’s top four scores added up to be 16 pins better than Maize’s, but it was the depth of Maize that prevailed. All season Maize practiced for a chance to capture state and in the decisive third game, it outshot North 820-812 to win.

“This means everything,” Perez said. “Every practice we were working towards this. We came in here believing we could win and we actually did it.”

Class 6A Girls

At Northrock Lanes

Team results — 1. Maize (Arianna Perez 674, Leela Yahya 674, Karlene Winegarner 584, Danica Walker 580) 2,562; 2. Olathe North (Madison Kent 679, Kacoie Hixon 638, Abigail Higgins 626, Erika Faulkenberry 585); 3. Wichita East (Kayla Steelsmith 608, Ashlyn Herzberg 577, Alyssa Loper 558, Larissa Lawrie 539); 4. Garden City 2,284; 5. Olathe South 2,270; 6. Shawnee Mission Northwest 2,251; 7. Junction City 2,194; 8. Derby 2,184 (Ashley Hare 586, Anna Aspinwall 523, Brooke Webb 513, Rachel Bannon 502); 9. Washburn Rural 2,165.

Individual results — 1. Courtney Hill, Campus, 221-201-266— 688; 2. Madison Kent, O. North, 244-246-189— 679; 3. Shelby Harms, Hutchinson, 216-191-268— 675; 4. Arianna Perez, Maize, 245-203-226— 674; 5. Leela Yahya, Maize, 228-228-218— 674; 6. Rikkie Hemmert, Garden City, 170-259-226— 655; 7. Chantel Smith, Dodge City, 221-254-179— 654; 8. Kacoie Hixon, O. North, 183-244-211— 638; 9. Erika Peters, Rural, 227-226-182— 635; 10. Shelby Burns, W. Heights, 226-225-181— 632; 11. Brittany Ball, O. South, 202-184-246— 632; 12. Mackenzie Mitchell, O. South, 215-222-193— 630; 13. Abigail Higgins, O. North, 163-256-207— 626; 14. Kayla Steelsmith, W. East, 201-225-182— 608; 15. Kierstan Warren, Lawrence, 191-211-203— 605; 16. Tieha Bissonnette, Junction City, 210-226-165— 601; 17. Elizabeth Nelson, SM Northwest, 205-193-198— 596; 18. Brooklyn Ellis, O. East, 179-221-194— 594; 19. Ashley Hare, Derby, 195-200-191— 586; 20. Mackenzie Saulnier, O. Northwest, 205-204-176— 585.