The Harker Heights girls’ bowling team won the state championship Saturday in San Antonio.

“It was a very special accomplishment,” said head coach Garry McNiesh. “These girls remained so enthusiastic in this tournament. They’re great teammates. They care about each other and they were often offering suggestions to each other. All five have a special bond, they love each other.”

The five members of the winning Lady Knights team are freshmen Sierra Ciesiolka and Alyssa Jewell, sophomore Samantha Jewell and juniors Eva Avans and Maya Dixon-Dates.

“I was very surprised we won it,” Ciesiolka said. “I was honestly just expecting us to finish in the top eight. It feels great to have won it all. Not a lot kids get to say they’re part of a state bowling championship team.”

Ciesiolka clinched the title Sunday. She needed two strikes in the final frame of the last match to give Heights the championship.

“It was a high-pressure situation Sierra was in,” McNiesh said. “But she came through.”

Ciesiolka rolled the must-have strikes, which McNiesh described as “perfect” shots.

“From my perspective, they were ‘buried in the pocket,’ which is a phrase bowlers use for a perfect strike,” McNiesh said.

McNiesh, 64, was an accomplished collegiate bowler for the University of California-Davis.

“I’ve been involved in sports my whole life,” he said. “And for what Sierra did in those last two frames — especially being a freshman — was absolutely amazing to me.”

Ciesiolka is already looking forward to the 2015 season.

“We’ll be defending champions so everyone will be targeting us,” she said. “But that’s OK. We’ll just have to work harder to keep the title.”

Contact Allan Mandell at or 254-501-7566​ and read his blog at

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