Thomas Jefferson girls bowling finishes in third at state championship

TJ’s Alena McDugle finished with a score of 247, which was the highest of any bowler at the state tournament.

Three of the four Federal Way high schools participated in the WIAA state bowling championships in early February.

Thomas Jefferson shined bright against the competition at Bowlero Lanes finishing in third place among all 3A teams. Comparing the entire field of teams spanning four different divisions, totaling 28 schools, TJ finished ninth.

“As a team, it’s nice to have our peers around us, bringing us up if we’re falling down. It’s definitely a confidence boost,” said Raider sophomore Alena McDugle.

In 2018, the team took second in the state. Last season, the Raiders had another solid season finish, placing fifth in 3A and 12th overall. But this season Thomas Jefferson improved on that season and leapfrogged a handful of teams.

“We are kind of already used to this environment, it’s encouraging because we (Alena) are the two youngest on the team. It’s fun to experience this,” said Samiya Gildon.

The Raiders had four returning bowlers from that fifth-placed team. This season has a different spin on the tournament setup. There were added games for individuals, increasing from four games to six. On top of that, as a team there were four added baker games, going from 10 to 14. This means that over the course of the two-day competition, the Raider bowlers could have bowled up to 88 frames in that span.

During the first three games, TJ needed a performance reset. “The first games are out the window… After we regroup and take a break, we’ll be back,” Gildon said.

TJ is led by two sophomores who finished inside the top 12 Samiya Gildon and Alena McDugle. Gildon’s final total was 982 with her best game being her third where she finished with 182, McDugle came in eighth with her best score 247 — which was the highest of any bowler at the state tournament.

Todd Beamer also had a participant, senior Jazel Tiquia who competed in her second consecutive state tournament. Tiquia finished the six games with a 941 total, her best score was in her fourth game in which she scored 189.

It was a challenging start for Tiquia but she found her way in that fourth game with added focus. “I just got to figure out the new lane, then once I do that it all falls into place… I just have to put faith in myself,” Tiquia said.

Decatur also had two bowlers, senior Sun Hong and junior Chloe Bettelon compete at the state tournament. The two said they both boosted each other’s confidence by having a teammate there.

“It’s nice having a teammate here… We’ve been watching each other so we can help each other with what we see,” Hong said.

Hong averaged only 117 during her first three games but turned it around in her last three averaging 173 over those three. Hong’s best game was her last, she finished with a 199 game.

Bettelon’s best game was her third where she picked up three strikes in a row in the ninth and tenth frames leading her to a 134 game.

With the conclusion of the state tournament, the bowling season has come to an end. But many of the bowlers who competed will be back next year, along with a new crop of talent from these schools.