EagleHerald/Matt Lehmann
Peshtigo boys bowling team member Travis Lund.
EagleHerald/Matt Lehmann

Peshtigo boys bowling team member Travis Lund.

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PESHTIGO — For the second consecutive season, the Peshtigo girls bowling team will competing in the High School State Bowling Championship this weekend in Wausau.

Peshtigo’s girls bowling program is only four years old but has already seen considerable success in its short life span. In addition to returning to state, the Bulldogs will head to Wausau with an undefeated 11-0 record, including a perfect 5-0 record in the Green Bay Area Bowling Conference, both of which are firsts for the program.

Peshtigo failed to advance past the qualifying round in last year’s finals, finishing seventh, and are hungry to improve on that showing. The Bulldogs return five bowlers from last year’s squad, including senior Rachel Chaney, who is also one of the founders of the team.

“Four years ago, Rachel was an incoming freshman and we didn’t even have a team,” Peshtigo girls head coach Tony Strublic said, “She didn’t want to have to bowl with the boys, so she got her friends together and that’s how Peshtigo ended up with a girls bowling team. Where we are now is because of the initiative that she showed.”

“Last year, state was pretty intimidating because I didn’t know what to expect,” Chaney added. “As it went on, we started getting more and more used to it, but we also got tired out because we don’t usually bowl that many games and it was pretty intense. We finished seventh last year and I’m pretty proud that we’re going back this year because I think we can go even further.”

The girls team averaged a score of 161 in conference play and finished the season with a single-game high of 254. The Bulldogs will kick off the weekend in the squad A, division two qualifying block along with Ladysmith, Antigo, Wisconsin Dells, Sevastopol and Amherst. The top two teams will automatically advance to Sunday’s finals while teams three-five will have a “roll-off” on Saturday with the top two teams advancing.

Strublic believes that last season’s seventh-place finish has fueled Peshtigo’s improvement this year and that last year’s experience will benefit them heading into state.

“It helps because they’ve all bowled together and they bowled together at last year’s finals, so that’s a big help for them,” he said. “Getting to state is never an easy thing. Everyone has to work together, and they’ve been focused on our goal of getting back to state since the season began. “Your number four and five bowlers are usually your strongest ones, so Rachel and Morgan (Nicklaus) are the glue that holds us together. They always finish strong and nothing seems to bother them.”

“When they have a few bad frames, they’re able to recover well and they don’t continue on a downward spiral. They refocus and they improve,” he continued. “If they ever have a bad game, they come right back with a good one. They always try really hard and they never quit and I think that’s probably the biggest strength they have as a team.”

Autumn Macejak, Trinity Ries, Beverly Bloch, Katelyn Lewis and Brenna Fischer round out the roster for the girls’ team.

Sophomore Travis Lund will also be making the trip to Wausau to compete in individual competition. Lund was on last year’s boys state qualifying team but will be flying solo after the Bulldogs fell just short of qualifying for team finals. Lund qualified for state after finishing the season in the top-seven of the GBABC while posting a 84 percent strike/spare percentage.

Lund is paired up with Beloit Memorial’s Sam Tews and Sun Prairie’s Tyler Haugen in Friday’s opening round.

“I’m excited and a little nervous, but I think it’s just going to be a fun experience,” Lund said. “I’ve kept practicing with teammates and coaches and I’ve just tried to learn as much as I can.”

The finals will be held at Dale’s Weston Lanes with individual competition kicking things off at 4:30 p.m. The top 25% from Friday advance to Saturday, where the top five bowlers will move on to Sunday’s finals. Team competition begins Friday night at 7:30.