Cottage Grove, Sports Zone

Lady Lions ‘strike’ gold with first state bowling title

Pictured with their state championship trophy won Feb. 22-23 are the members of the Cottage Grove Lady Lions – a cooperative sponsorship girls’ bowling team including girls from Cottage Grove, Creswell and Thurston. From left, top: head coach Ernie Owen and assistant coach Rick Kindrick; second row: Haylee Oxenford, Josie Bridges, Joleen Skiller and Avary Lott; third row: Allyson Phillips, Cheyenne Stroud and Kelsie McDonald; front: Kari Kindrick. Photo provided/Trish McDonald

COTTAGE GROVE – Paced by Thurston junior Kari Kindrick, an OSUSBC (Oregon State United States Bowling Congress) cooperative sponsorship girls’ bowling team comprised of Cottage Grove, Creswell and Thurston students claimed the state title Feb. 22-23 at AMF Firebird Lanes in Salem, for the first time in the program’s 20-plus-year history at Cottage Grove High School.
Kendrick – a three-year District 4 All-Star, two-year District MVP, 2019 State MVP and fifth-place State All-Star this year – led the eight-member Lady Lions to victory over Mazama by 18 pins in the two-game championship match.
”We lost the first game by (seven) pins (339-332) but won the second by 25 pins (371-346), so we got first place,” said head coach Ernie Owens, who for 14 years has coached CGHS-based girls’ and boys’ teams that under the OSUSBC cooperative sponsorship program may include students from other area schools without enough bowlers to form full teams of their own.
Joining Kindrick on this year’s Lady Lions were third-place District All-Star Joleen Skiller, Haylee Oxenford, Cheyenne Stroud and Kelsie McDonald of Cottage Grove; Allyson Phillips of Creswell; and Josie Bridges and Avary Lott of Thurston.
Defeating one of the state’s most high-profile teams to finally ”strike” state title gold was ”quite an accomplishment,” Owens said – the crowning feather in the cap of a girls’ team that has competed at state for 11 consecutive years, placing as high as second but never before coming home champions.
This year’s Lady Lions proved they had talent to ”spare.” After eight regular-season tournaments, followed by districts in late January, the team advanced to state as District 4 champions – and given that district third seed Siuslaw placed third of 16 teams at state while second seed Marshfield placed fifth, that’s saying something.
”We have a strong district this year for girls, and strong in state; they proved it,” Owens said.
The state tournament followed the Baker system used in high school and college: two-game matches with five bowlers on each team bowling two frames apiece, per game. The Lady Lions couldn’t have ”framed” it better, winning seven straight games in a double elimination round robin tournament before battling Mazama for the championship.
”It was a great year – but capping it off with a championship that we’ve never seen before, that was the glory, it really was,” Owens said. And, he added, ”It’s all about the kids; they deserve the glory – all I did was get them to a position where they could take it for themselves.”
And with a well-established Junior League (ages 5 to 18) program feeding the high school teams, Owens anticipates continuing success.
”There are a couple of eighth graders I’m looking forward to working with next year, filling in spots for seniors that have graduated,” he said.



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