This weekend, a group of Southside student-athletes will compete for a state championship.
But it’s with a team few have heard of.
While most of Southside’s teams take to the field or the court, this team takes to the lanes. Southside’s boys and girls bowling teams will compete at the Indiana High School Bowling state finals Saturday at the Arrowhead Bowling Center in Lafayette among the 24 teams (12 boys, 12 girls) vying for state crowns.
The Southside girls finished third at their semistate last weekend in Greenwood, Ind., while the boys finished fifth. Bowlers Craig Monroe and Patrick Thomas advanced as two of the top 24 individuals in the state.
Southside coach Clayton McKnight said high school bowling in the state has been around for 11 years and there are 209 teams competing.
“It’s not sponsored totally by the school, but they help us out,” said McKnight, who coached the team for much of its history. “We have to follow the grade system that they have, and all my players make grades all the years there.
“We follow all of the rules that any other athlete at Southside has to follow. I think that’s a pretty high honor for Muncie Southside.”
The competitions are formatted such that all five members of the team bowl two regular games and then the team has five games in Bakers format, where players take turns each frame. This will be the third trip to the finals for Southside’s boys and the girls have been regular attendees to the finals, but both teams are still looking for their first state titles. Southside is the only school this year with both teams in the finals.
One peculiar aspect of high school bowling is players earn scholarship money from the tournaments for high scores, improvement and a variety of other accomplishments.
“This is a high-profile tournament,” McKnight said of Saturday’s event. “(Bowling) is one of the top sports that’s not recognized by anyone. My youngest son has already collected $5,000 in scholarship money.”