DES MOINES — Fort Dodge girls bowling head coach Nick Vinson didn’t know how to put into words how he felt after Monday’s state qualifying meet.
The Dodgers entered the meet as the 17th-best team in Class 2A, but after the competition at Gameday Lanes, they are one of only eight left standing.
Fort Dodge finished second in the Urbandale host competition with their best score of the season at 2,498. Independence (2,590) won the title.
“We met (Sunday) and talked about how nobody really expected us to do anything outside of our own program,” Vinson said. “We just had to go out and send (the message). We were the fifth best team in the district on paper, so we were an underdog.
“I thought we had the potential to do it. We just had to come together to make it happen. The girls did an outstanding job.”
This is the fifth time in six years that the Dodger girls have qualified for the state tournament. After four straight seasons followed by a one-year hiatus in 2023, the Dodgers put together a strong run to make a return.
“There were no expectations, really,” Vinson said. “I just told them to do what they know how to do and not worry about it. After the first five games, we were in second. After 10, we were in first and up on Independence and about 160 on North Scott. I didn’t tell them where we were. We just kept bowling.
“Independence caught us, but the girls just kept going and focusing on themselves.”
This event consisted of 15 bakers games, where five players bowl frames in each stanza. The Dodgers started with the best score in the opener with a 175. Fort Dodge had the best score in four of the first 10 games.
The Dodgers’ highest score was a 198. They also had a 195 and 194. FDSH averaged 166.5.
Competing for the Dodgers was Calli Graves, Samantha Anderson, Samantha Welter, Sol Birkey, Gabby Flores and Amyrra Lumsden.
“Everyone contributed,” Vinson said. “I feel like this is the best that Gabby has bowled. She struck a lot and in bakers, which was a huge help.
“The girls really stepped up across the board.”
After Fort Dodge struggled in the IAC Northern Division meet last week, Vinson was impressed with the way his squad rallied and responded.
“We regressed some in the conference meet, so when we went back to practice, I challenged them,” Vinson said. “We talked about how team and individual differ.
“After last week, it would have been easy to draw the conclusion that we didn’t have a chance. To the girls’ credit, they reversed that narrative.”
The Dodgers also competed in the individual qualifier on Monday, where the Top-8 individuals advanced to state.
Lumsden had the top individual total for the Dodgers with a 496. Flores (488) was next, followed by Birkey (463) and Graves (441).
The final spot was claimed by Independence’s Brooklyn Tudor at 516.
Fort Dodge will compete in the state meet on Feb. 21 at Cadillac Lanes.