Fremont’s Camden McKenzie let out a roar Tuesday as all 10 pins fell on lane 25 of his first-ball 10th frame at Sun Valley Lanes.
McKenzie’s strike solidified the win for the Tigers in the game, which they won 190-160, and in the final match, 3-0, over Seward in the boys bowling state championship.
It is the first high school NSAA-sanctioned bowling state title for any school.
“I knew going in that a nine-spare (or) strike would have done it,” McKenzie said. “I just told myself, ‘Throw a great shot,’ and that’s exactly what I did. I went up and threw a great shot. All my nerves left my body at that point when I saw a solid 10 (pins) go down.”
The Tigers’ path to the championship was not as straight and narrow as their throws in the title match after losing to Seward 3-0 in the semifinals. The Bluejays, who finished as runners-up, were the only team to defeat top-seeded Fremont all season.
Seward and Fremont split two regular-season matchups, bringing a showdown Tuesday with the Tigers beating the Bluejays in two out of three matches. Fremont, which earned another shot at Seward by defeating Bellevue West, had to beat the Bluejays twice to take the title. The Tigers forced a second championship match by defeating Seward 3-1.
“I like it,” Seward coach Steve Conner said. “I enjoy the coaches from Fremont (and) I enjoy the players. If that is going to be our rival, I’m happy with that. It’s a great position to be in and I’m looking forward to a few more years of it.
“We are super-excited. We are super-excited that it is an NSAA sport. This exceeded my expectations. I know the kids are disappointed; in a couple weeks they’ll know how good they did.”
After Fremont went up 2-0 in the final best-of-five match, the Tigers turned to hot hand Alexander Riessen to lead off game three. Riessen is the only non-senior on the Fremont roster.
“Bowling, you put your hot bowlers in when they are hot and Alex was throwing phenomenal,” Fremont coach Keith Cunnings said. “Next year he’ll be the senior on the team. He needs his chance (and) he needs reps. He was feeling good and he was throwing good when we needed him to, we gave him that chance.”
Cole Macaluso, who won the boys state individual title Monday, replaced Riessen in the sixth frame. Macaluso was normally the Tigers’ anchor for the fifth and 10th frames, but this time that spot belonged to McKenzie.
“We just know we have one job to do and that is to go out and strike and spare,” McKenzie said.
Bellevue West finished third with its 3-0 loss to Fremont in the consolation semifinals and Lincoln Pius X placed fourth.
State bowling continues Wednesday at Sun Valley Lanes with the girls state tournament. Action begins at 9 a.m. with the finals set for 2:30 p.m.