Bobcats take 3A bowling title

GMG’s Dylan Cooper (above) helped the Marshalltown bowling team to a 3A state title on Feb. 23. Cooper finished third on his team in Waterloo with a score of 228-233-458 Photo by Noah Rohlfing

WATERLOO — The tears in the eyes of Marshalltown bowling coach DJ Wilder told the story of the Bobcats’ state tournament.

It’s a story of surprise, pride and a trophy — one that will now sit in Marshalltown’s trophy cabinet.

A Bobcat bowling team consisting of two sophomores and four juniors pulled off a state championship-winning performance Tuesday afternoon at Cadillac Lanes, coming up just short of a school record and taking home the school’s second state bowling title.

The Bobcats won with a score of 3,450 — beating second-place Davenport North’s score of 3,326 by 124.

Marshalltown started out fast in the first game of the opening series, with five out of six bowlers rolling a 223 or better. The Bobcats have consistently struggled in second games this season, something DJ has harped on multiple times.

But Tuesday the Bobcats held firm in the second game — four bowlers broke 200, and the score Marshalltown had to leave out (396) was from Xander Pickett, who rolled a 255 to tie for the Bobcats’ best game of the day.

The 396 cutoff number for the Bobcats was a sign they were at their best.

Demitri Ferneau led the Bobcats in the open games and finished second in the individual standings with a series of 234-255-489, breaking through after two difficult years at the state tournament in 2019 and 2020.

“I thought the lanes were playing a little tough today,” Ferneau said. “But I was just making quality shots towards the end, and I knew what we needed.”

He was followed by sophomore Damon Borton, who followed up a medalist honor in districts with a fifth-place finish at 225-233-458. DJ said Borton’s consistent performances late in the year were huge to Marshalltown stepping up its game.

Dylan Cooper was third on the team with a series of 228-214-442, and Aaron Ratte was fourth with 232-199-431. Dru Wilder finished the scoring with 223-185-408.

The Baker games were critical to the Bobcats’ success — in all five, Marshalltown scored at least 214. In four of the five games, Marshalltown had scores of 255, 245, 253 and 255. It was a consistent performance of a level Marshalltown didn’t reach in the regular season, or even at districts in a meet-winning performance there — in fact, DJ singled out that Bakers had been a weakness for the team throughout the season.

So, before the meet, DJ said the team went through Baker games at the end of each practice. The result was a spot in school history for a team that returns all six varsity starters for the 2021-22 season.

“This year was a team effort,” DJ said. “It was everybody from the top down. To me that’s special. That’s taking nothing away from those teams [2019 and 2020 MHS state teams], we finished runner-up last year and it was a great team. But this one feels special to me for that reason, because I consider them to be my kids.”