By Blake Long/Special to the Journal
Taylor Russell gets plenty of attention when she steps up to the bowling lane for Tupelo High, but she’s not the lone reason the Lady Wave is a serious contender.
Russell and her teammates go for Tupelo’s third straight state title Friday in the MHSAA Class II bowling championships at Fannin Lanes in Brandon.
Coach Susan Dudley feels that from top to bottom the Lady Wave may have its strongest squad in program history.
“The team as a whole is probably one of the strongest girls teams we’ve had,” she said. “We can do it, we just have to fight for it.”
Addison Gable, Ellye Gafford, Ashleigh Burns and Madison Stafford joined Russell as part of the five-girl team in the Baker-style North championship match against Neshoba Central last Saturday.
The unit dispatched the Lady Rockets 3-0 in the best-of-five series with comfortable wins in Games 1 and 2, before Russell knocked down a strike in her last roll for a 136-134 sweep-clinching victory.
“We’ve got it if we put our minds to it,” Russell said. “If we have our head in the game, I think we can go all the way.”
LIVIN’ ON A SPARE
As Tupelo’s boys prepare to bowl for their seventh straight state title, you can bet the Golden Wave will practice finishing spare situations.
“We’ve got to focus on our spares and making sure we can make the same shot over and over and over,” Dudley said.
Starkville picked up one more spare than the Wave did to win Game 5 of the Class II North championship series by 15 pins.
Tupelo rolled a solid qualifying round, including a 1,022 team score in the final game. Clayton Horton, Joshua Chambers and Josh Turberville rolled four straight strikes apiece to begin their games.
The defending Class I champions Itawamba AHS girls and East Webster boys put their titles on the line Friday as well.
Eleven area teams, including first-year boys programs at New Albany and TCPS, will comprise the field of 16 at Jackson’s Paradise Lanes.
ON A ROLL
The team qualifiers for the MHSAA Class I and II state bowling tournaments, scheduled for Friday in Jackson:
At Fannin Lanes
Class II Boys
Starkville, Tupelo, Clinton, Terry, Hancock, Gautier, Olive Branch, Petal
Class II Girls
Tupelo, Neshoba Central, Clinton, Madison Central, Petal, Pascagoula, Pearl, Ridgeland
At Paradise Lanes
Class I Boys
East Union, West Union, North Pike, Florence, East Webster, Pontotoc, TCPS, New Albany
Class I Girls
East Union, Itawamba AHS, Florence, St. Joseph, East Webster, Pisgah, West Union, Pontotoc