WATERLOO — A new venue.
A packed crowd.
Some added pageantry.
There are a lot of things about the state bowling meet that can throw a bowler off their game.
So, the Central DeWitt girls bowling team found something familiar to build around at Monday’s 1A state meet.
All six Sabers made an impact in the competition, whether it was the individual-based first round or the five Baker games.
And the result was program history.
With four bowlers producing series of 350 or better and its top Baker performance of the season, the Sabers brought home their best state finish ever, taking second in the eight-team field with a final score of 2,719.
That was the team’s top score of the season and more than 100 pins clear of third-place Charles City.
There proved to be no stopping Louisa-Muscatine’s quest for its own history. The Falcons became the first Iowa squad to win four straight state titles with a 3,043.
This was the second state team trophy for the Sabers, who finished third in their previous trip to state in 2014, and head coach Seth Ketelsen put the emphasis on “team.”
“The biggest thing…was they bowled as a team,” he said.
And by doing that they shook off all of the distractions that come with the state meet.
“They bowled aggressively and bowled with confidence,” Ketelsen said. “Those were the two things we have been working on all season.”
Scores were down across the board in game one — only three bowlers broke 200 — as the teams got used to the lanes at Cadillac XBC in Waterloo.
Senior Grace Pfeifle led the way for the Sabers, bowling a 188 that doubled as the seventh-highest tally of the opening game.
The rest of the Sabers stayed close. Junior Kimberly Hendricks bowled a 172, while just three pins separated junior Alyssa Lampe (162), senior Denyse Turnquist (161) and junior Eve Schmitt (160).
Freshman Jena Edwards, meanwhile, wrapped things up with a 152.
The number of 200 scores nearly tripled across the board in game two.
And the Sabers did their part, with a trio accomplishing the feat.
Hendricks led the way, using a run of three strikes late to produce a 218.
Lampe had her own run of strikes — in the seventh, eighth and ninth frames — during her 203 game, while Edwards had the best score of her freshman season with a 200.
Turnquist finished just nine pins south of 200 with a 191, while Schmitt added a 134 and Pfeifle a 129.
Behind her two scores, Hendricks tied for sixth overall with Louisa-Muscatine’s Shadyn Bishop — both finished with 390s — to earn a state medal.
She was not the only one, Lampe’s 203 in game two helped her finish ninth overall with a 365.
The Sabers had had individual medalists in each of their previous two trips to state, but never two of them.
That was good news in the team race. So was the fact that the first two bowlers just outside of the top 10 were also Sabers — Turnquist and Edwards, who were part of a three-way tie for 11th with their 352 series.
Pfeifle and Schmitt also finished in the top 40 — the Sabers and Charles City were the only two teams to have all six bowlers in the top 40 — with the former taking 29th with her 317 series and the latter finishing 37th with a 294 series.
With round one in the books, the Sabers already sat in second place with a score of 1,776.
They cemented it, though, by bowling the second-best Baker total in the meet: a 943.
The Sabers’ scores looked like a mountain. They climbed in the first two games — a 171 in game one, then a 181 in game two — before reaching their peak with a 214 (tied for the second-highest Baker score of the day) in game three.
Central DeWitt followed it up with a 197 in game four and finished everything off with a 180 in game five.
All six of the Sabers’ bowlers took part in at least one of the Baker games — in a Baker game, five bowlers from a team alternate frames — and Lampe, in particular, shined.
“If you take the 10 frames that Alyssa put together for Baker,” Ketelsen said, “her first 10 frames would have been a 269 game.”
The final Baker score of 943 was 37 pins better than Charles City and just 90 pins back of the champion Falcons.
It also wrapped up a historic day for the Sabers.
“They put together their best Baker set of the season,” Ketelsen pointed out. “Their performance was the best of the season.”