The goal is clear for the Muscatine girls bowling team -- finish on top.
Muscatine placed third in the Class 3A state tournament last year and despite losing Christin Swank, who is currently bowling at St. Ambrose, coach Brian Chapman believes Muscatine has the potential for a special season.
“They work great together,” Chapman said. “They’re all thrilled to be together for their last year. They want to finish out on top.”
The Muskies were dominant last season on their way to an 8-0 record and a 2,982.7 match average score.
They return three seniors off last year’s team in Ragan Carey, Jaelynn Klein and Kaitlyn Bierman along with junior Gabi Evans and sophomore Emily Payne.
With so many bowlers returning after a successful season, Chapman believes the Muskies have the skill and desire to compete for a state championship.
Johnston and Cedar Rapids Prairie, the teams to finish ahead of Muscatine last season, lost a combined four seniors. The Muskies lost one in Swank, who was the team's top bowler.
She won't be easy to replace, and that remains Chapman’s primary concern at the moment.
“We want to be at state again and be at the top all year long,” Chapman said. “I think I have the girls that could do it, we’ll just have to just wait and see how everything plays out for us. They want it; we just have to find that sixth body to make them great.”
Chapman hasn’t seen enough to determine who the sixth member of the lineup will be, but mentioned sophomore Kayla Maurer, junior Skyler Tomlinson and senior Courtney Casteel as candidates.
Meanwhile, Chapman hopes his boys team can improve off a promising 4-4 record last season.
The Muskies return sophomores Carter Riley, Caleb Sterbenz and Devin LaRett as well as junior Tyler Harris and senior Bryan Ferris.
“The boys are going to be surprising this year,” Chapman said. “I’m hoping for a better record than last year.”
Chapman also mentioned three freshmen in Ty Brooks, Marcus Madison and Noah Millers. They all averaged better than 170 per game and could make an impact this winter.
If things fall into place for the Muskies, a state appearance certainly isn’t out of the question.
“I have eight guys who can really change the dynamic of meets,” Chapman said. “I think we could have a chance of going to state with the boys.”