Tupelo Christian Prep’s boys bowling team knows all about the strike count – in both bowling and baseball.
The Eagles’ starting six bowlers – all members of the school’s baseball team – are hoping to roll enough strikes in today’s MHSAA Class I State Bowling Tournament at Fannin Lanes in Brandon to bring home a second consecutive state championship.
“We’ve taken a bunch of baseball players and turned them into bowlers,” TCPS coach Kevin Hartigan said, then laughed. “They’re good bowlers. They shock the heck out of you.”
Sophomore Lucas Hartigan, the coach’s son, and freshman Brandon Wood, are experienced bowlers. Teammates Austin Laney, freshman; Jackson Lipscomb, sophomore and eighth graders Ryan Brown, Blake Clement and Wilkes Crosthwait are not.
“Austin Laney had not touched a bowling ball before we started,” Kevin Hartigan said. “They all practice like crazy. They’ve clicked.
“This is one of the best years we’ve had, coaching wise.”
TCPS enters the state finals with a 12-1-1 record. The team lost to Tupelo and tied New Albany.
Wave teams ready
Tupelo coach Susan Dudley likes her teams’ chances in Friday’s Class II State Bowling Tournament at Fannin Lanes.
The Lady Wave, 13-1, has won three straight state championships while the Golden Wave boys, 14-1, have won five of the last six.
“Total pin-wise, our girls should be OK,” Dudley said. “My concern is in Baker. If we don’t come out and win that first game, it rattles them.”
The two-team, Baker-style championship format pits the teams with the top pin counts coming out of the preliminaries.
Sophomore Taylor Russell, who rolled a 247 high game in the regional tournament, leads the Lady Wave.
On the boys side, Tupelo will likely be challenged by DeSoto Central and Neshoba Central in its run for a state title. The Golden Wave, which didn’t win state last season, defeated Neshoba Central 3-0 in this year’s regional.
“We have a lot more depth on our boys team than we did last year,” Dudley said.
Clayton Horton, a junior, was Tupelo’s top bowler in the regionals, rolling an 864 high series.