Copperas Cove sophomore Dakota Stutz accepted the challenge.
It was Wednesday afternoon at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen. Stutz and nine fellow bowlers on the Cove teams were in the middle of practice.
As suggested by the Killeen Daily Herald, Stutz would have a one-frame match against Jerry Stutz, Cove’s head bowling coach, who also happens to be Dakota’s father.
Jerry, 41, averages between 180 and 194 while Dakota, this season, is averaging 175.
“I think Jerry will win because of karma,” said senior Addie Ganyard, Dakota’s teammate.
“Jerry will win this,” said James Norris, a junior who averages 202 for the Bulldawgs boys’ team. “Dakota’s dad will win — definitely.”
Before putting on his bowling shoes, through a big smile, Jerry Stutz said, “Usually, when my daughter Dakota and I bowl against each other, she gets too cocky and, at the end of the day, after three games, she goes home a pin or two behind.”
Hogwash, said Dakota. “I beat him every time — every time.”
Jerry grabbed his ball and was ready to roll. He took a three-step approach, let it fly and ... knocked down eight pins, leaving the 6 and 10 pins standing.
Then it was Dakota’s turn. Her teammates offered their collective encouragement with cheers. Dakota took a five-step approach and fired ...
Boom! Ten pins fell. It was a strike.
This match was over.
“This win feels great!” beamed Dakota. “It shows him who’s boss.”
“Well,” Jerry said, “there’s not much I can say. She did a very good job. It was a very clutch roll.”
The Copperas Cove bowlers have come through with a lot of clutch rolls in the past 12 months. Both the girls’ and boys’ teams advanced to the “Sweet 16” of the state tournament in March.
In this 2013-2014 season, both teams are 2-0 in Central Texas District action and expectations are high.
“I expect our girls to get to the Elite Eight at state this season,” said coach Stutz.
Besides Dakota, the girls’ team is led by seniors Stephani Brown and Jessica Reed. Brown is averaging 204, Reed 165. Also rolling strong for the girls’ team are Ganyard (156) and sophomore Ashlee Huffman (135).
Besides Norris, the Cove boys’ have two other bowlers averaging more than 200: seniors Robert Bigford, 203, and Jacob Reed, 224. Senior Kapua Camacho is averaging 162 and junior Nathaniel Cerniglia 158.
Reed has set the bar high for himself and his teammates.
“We’ll definitely get to state,” he said. “As for winning it all, winning state, we just need to remember that last year a team won state that nobody expected to take it all, the Richland Rebels (Dallas). The key for us though is to try and keep the past behind us and just focus on the now.”
“I think we definitely have a chance to win state,” Norris said. “Our goal is to make it to the state tournament and if we don’t win it, then at least finish in the top eight or top four. I definitely think we’ll be able to win the district although Ellison has a good team this year and Harker Heights does, too.”
To liven up the practice, Norris was challenged to roll one ball for a strike by the Herald.
One roll. Strike or no strike.
If he got a strike, around 20,000 Herald readers would learn of his accomplishment.
If he missed on the strike, well, the masses would have to be informed of that, too.
Camacho had confidence in his teammate. “James Norris will roll a strike,” he said.
Cerniglia concurred. “No doubt. He’ll strike.”
Several members of the girls’ team expressed their doubts; Norris wouldn’t strike.
All public bowling at Hallmark had come to a momentary stop. Everyone at the bowling alley was watching Norris.
Norris grabbed his ball. He took a four-step approach. He let it go. It looked like a sharp, magnificent hook and ...
The bowling alley erupted in cheers. Norris got mobbed by his teammates.
“My back was a little sweaty because I was a little nervous,” Norris said.
“But I got through that part. As soon as I let go of the ball, I knew I had it.”
Soon enough, talk turned back to the state tournament.
“The key for both our girls’ and boys’ teams to get to state, and then be successful at state, is to hit our spares,” Norris said. “Hitting the clutch spares isn’t easy, but if you don’t hit your spares, you can run into some trouble.”
Of course an easy solution to staying out of that kind of trouble is to just keep rolling clutch strikes.
Like James Norris and Dakota Stutz did on Wednesday.