TOPEKA (KSNT) – “I knew they all had the potential to be very, very good,” said Shawnee Heights bowling coach Scott Mercer.
The Thunderbirds bowling team failed to qualify for the state tournament last season, but now with their top three bowlers being upperclassmen, Shawnee Heights is setting its sights even further.
“This year is probably the strongest year we’ve ever had as a boys team at Shawnee Heights and I think it’s just really cool to watch everyone start to finally succeed,” said Shawnee Heights junior bowler Nathan Mercer.
“We’ve been practicing more, focusing more, and just trying to get better day by day,” said Shawnee Heights junior bowler Alex Pheigaru.
The T-Birds have won four of their seven matches in 2017, and appear to be sliding into their groove just in time for the postseason.
“There’s just been something this year,” said Coach Mercer. “I don’t know what it is, I don’t know why, I can’t explain it, but they’re doing it.”
“We have a good chemistry,” said Shawnee Heights junior bowler Brayden Prockish. “We’re all friends and we’ve known each other for quite a while, so it’s good chemistry.”
“Fun is always a good thing to have, and team chemistry is also really important,” said Nathan Mercer.
The T-Bird trio has now been competitively bowling together for the past three years. The jitters and pressure of high school athletics is now a thing of the past.
“When they were freshman, it was like ‘oh no, I have to perform now, I have to keep up.’,” said Coach Mercer. “Well on Tuesday, they all stepped up. All three of them. And I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything quite like that.”
In their match at Emporia, all three juniors rolled 700 series and finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd individually. That’s more than a 233 average per game. Nathan Mercer was on top once again with a 748.
“It’s always a team effort, and team chemistry is probably one of the most important things with bowling,” said Nathan Mercer. “And if one person gets a good score and starts bowling well, everyone starts feeling the need to start bowling well too.
“It’s pretty easy,” said Prockish. “It depends on the team’s momentum, but if the team’s momentum is there, then we’ll all shoot pretty well.”
“There’s less stress on the others so they do better without the stress on them,” said Pheigaru.
Two weeks ago, Nathan Mercer rolled his first perfect game (300) in a high school competition, and he knew the 12th and final strike was happening the second the ball left his hand.
“I had a solid line and I knew I had a pretty good chance,” said Nathan Mercer “It was probably the best shot I threw that game and it was really cool to see everyone coming together as a team to help support me and cheer me on.”
The Centennial League meet is Wednesday, February 15, at West Ridge Lanes in Topeka.