The Cascade High School girls bowling team gave longtime coach Ron Hicks the perfect parting gift for his final season at the helm.
With their district title last week, the Bruins are sending Hicks to the state tournament one last time.
Cascade is one of eight team qualifiers set to compete in the Class 4A state championships Friday and Saturday at Narrows Plaza Bowl in University Place, where Hicks will cap his four-decade career as the Bruins’ bowling coach.
“It’s totally awesome,” said Hicks, who’s coached Cascade bowling since 1980. “When they won districts, I just took them aside and said thank you for the gift of winning and taking us to state one more time. It meant the world to me. It’s exciting.”
The Bruins graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, including individual state champion Paris Smith. With all of the losses to graduation, Hicks said qualifying for state as a team this season was somewhat of a surprise.
Cascade finished 12-1 in the regular season, splitting its two matches with rival Jackson. The Bruins then edged Jackson for the district title, beating the Timberwolves by just 34 pins to earn the district’s lone state berth. It will be Cascade’s ninth state appearance since 1999, when bowling transitioned from a club sport to a varsity sport.
“We bowled really well when we needed to,” Hicks said. “It was kind of an up-and-down season for us. Even though we had a great year, it was a surprise that we’ve done as well as we have.
“I credit the girls, because they’ve worked really hard to sustain consistency. (That’s) what made us pretty good. We didn’t have any really bad lows. We were just kind of consistent with what we did over the year.”
Cascade is led by senior Jessie Brambach, a longtime bowler who’s making her third state appearance. After taking her junior season off, Brambach returned to the Bruins this winter and posted a regular-season average score of 177. She then claimed the district title last week, rolling a two-game 395 series.
“Jessie was a big part of (our consistency),” Hicks said. “It was great to have her back this year. … She’s a good kid (and) a hard worker.”
Cascade senior Kendall Mannino, who was part of the Bruins’ 2018 state-qualifying team, posted a regular-season average of 153. Freshman teammate Elisabeth Olney was right behind with a 148 average.
Rounding out the Bruins’ state-bound team are senior Alyssa Elenbaas, junior Kloe Johnson and sophomore Nikki Barrett. All three posted regular-season averages between 124 and 133.
“It’s been a really fun run this year,” Hicks said. “The kids have worked really hard. … We’ve worked hard to get where we’re at, and we’re gonna enjoy the state tournament.”
Jackson sending pair of individuals
Jackson senior Meadow Hart and junior teammate Amanda Wininger both qualified for the 4A state tournament as individuals. Hart rolled a 357 series at the district tournament and Wininger posted a 350 series.