The inaugural Blackhawk bowling teams are headed to the State bowling meet this week after placing second in the District meet.
Last April, the Pea Ridge School Board approved adding bowling to the varsity sports program. Fifteen high school students signed up and not all had previous experience with bowling.
"We have an opportunity to add a sport," superintendent Keith Martin told School Board members when introducing the subject.
Assistant school superintendent Kevin Ramey told board members that bowling is an Arkansas Activities Association sport.
"We have the opportunity to add men's and women's bowling at the varsity level," Ramey said, explaining that "we know that students who participate in extra-curricular activities, whether they be athletics, arts, organizations, are more successful in school, more connected, have higher attendance rates, generally GPA is better and have less discipline issues. So this is an excellent opportunity for us to expand our athletics offerings for students and to add participation opportunities."
Ramey said officials with the Rogers Bowling Center allows the Pea Ridge student team to practice there free of charge. They are also allowed to practice individually for a small fee.
"It's a winter sport -- November through February," Ramey said.
Pea Ridge is in the West division.
The board approved the program with the anticipated costs of $1,200 for a coach stipend, $500 for men's uniforms and $500 for women's uniforms for a total anticipated cost of $2,200. Additional costs would be incurred for traveling to contests and tournaments.
Each team has six to 10 students from ninth to 12th grades. Tryouts were in October. Uniforms consist of a polo style shirt and athletes provide their own slacks, jeans or shorts in accordance with AAA rules.
Teams against which Pea Ridge competes include Bauxite, Clarksville, Elkins, Flippin, Gentry, Haas Hall - Fayetteville, Hackett, Jessieville, Lamar, Lincoln, Mayflower, Ozark and Perryville.
According to coach John E. King, the boys team won six of their eight meets and the girls won five of theirs.
The boys team had around 50% of their bowlers with prior bowling experience. The girls team members had around 25% of experienced bowlers.
"The inexperienced bowlers have picked up the game very quickly and will probably be lifelong bowlers," King said. The assistant coach is Edwin Brewer. "He (Brewer) has been a tremendous asset on the technical aspect of bowling."
"Most of the bowlers are multi-sport athletes and the other sports have worked to allow the students to be able to participate in bowling," King said.
To qualify for the state meet, a team must finish in the top five at their district meet. Typically there are 11 teams in each district, King explained.
Both the boys and girls finished second in the District Meet and qualified for the state meet, which is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 11, in Little Rock.
Students on the Pea Ridge Blackhawk Bowling teams for 2023-2024 are:
Callie Cooper, senior
Zoey Hinojosa, junior
Katie Jones senior
Kayleigh Mathis senior
Breanna Miller, junior
Rebecca Murray, sophomore
Zaylee Warden, sophomore
Aaron Hinojosa, junior
Zach Hinojosa, junior
Cole Ingram, junior
Peyton Kitterman, junior
John Olsen, senior
Adin Richter, senior
Titus Stevenson, junior
Tristen Williams, senior
State Bowling meet
11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 8