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ARTESIA — The three-time defending state champion Artesia Bulldog bowling team began the 2019-20 New Mexico High School Bowling Association season literally on a roll! With each tournament comprised of Advanced, Intermediate, Novice and Rookie divisions, the 30-member Artesia High School bowling team has the numbers and the ability to field teams in all divisions and, more times than not, more than one team in a division.

Opening their season in Rio Rancho, the Advanced team rolled games of 990 and 998 for their five-man squad, averaging just under 200 per game to move to the Baker game portion of the tournament within 60 pins of leading Rio Rancho High School.

Baker game bowling has each member of the team rolling two frames to complete a full 10-frame game.

“The great part of regular-season tournaments for us is that we compete directly with the Class 6A bowling powers of Rio Rancho High and Cleveland High School every week,” said AHS coach Ken Clayton. “Baker game bowling is the ultimate team game and tests a team’s mental strength as well as their bowling abilities.”

In rolling four of the seven Baker games over 200 and averaging 192 for seven, the Bulldog Advanced team finished the tournament in second place, trailing only winner Rio Rancho in the 10-team top division. Alex Harmon led the Bulldogs with games of 237-200 and was followed by Ethan Velo, 209-182, Justin Weddige, 199-192, Coy Moorhead, 211-175, and Tyler Jeter, 212-171.

The Intermediate division in Rio Rancho saw 14 teams compete, with the Artesia Bulldogs capturing both first and second place.

Clayton says the goal every week is to win each division, and when there is more than one Artesia team in a division, the ‘Dogs should consider themselves their own main competition.

The message was taken to heart by the Artesia #2 and Artesia #3 Intermediate teams, as they outpaced the division by 273 pins and 110 pins respectfully. First-place Artesia #2 was led by Joah James with a team-high 278 game, followed by Aaron Davis, 194-181, Miguel Gallegos, 195, and Parker Johnson, 155. Runner-up Artesia #3 was paced by TJ Thalman, 223-179, Xavier Ybarra, 188, Caden Brown, 172, Mady Pollard, 156-151, and Kamryn Kelsey, 136.

With a Novice division of 21 teams, the Artesia #4 team had a big challenge ahead of them, to which they responded with a 65-pin victory and the Bulldogs’ second win and fourth top-two finish of the day. Ana Loza led the Bulldogs with games of 177-136, followed by Ian Dodge, 176, Lillynn Lewis, 166-136, Wallace Smedley, 166- 151, and Paydon Kniepkamp, 142.

“Returning 24 bowlers from last season’s team made a big difference in the fast start to our season, and I look forward to that experience and this team’s willingness to practice hard paying off with another successful Bulldog bowling season,” said Clayton, who enters his 13th season as coach of the Bulldogs assisted by Tim Harvey, Holly Harvey and Jeff Davis.

The 2019-20 AHS bowling team is comprised of seniors Will Davis, Ethan Velo, Coy Moorhead, Alex Harmon Xavier Ybarra and Quinn Tilton, juniors Aaron Davis, Caden Brown, Miguel Gallegos, Kaden Sallee, Parker Johnson, Ian Dodge, Joah James, Wallace Smedley, Mady Pollard, Emmet Clark and Ceaden Pearson, sophomores Justin Weddige, Tyler Jeter, Logan McNeely, TJ Thalman, Lillynn Lewis, Ana Loza and Paydon Kniepkamp, and freshmen Kamryn Kelsey, Samantha Boebert, Syleen Aranda, Autumn Nailen and Jremiah Gonzales.

Bulldog bowlers sweep Advanced Division The Artesia Bulldog bowling team traveled to Espanola to compete in their second New Mexico High School Bowling Association event of the season. All they did there was proceed to take both first and second place in the state’s top Advanced division for the first time in school history.

“Normally, you have your top five bowlers in Advanced, with the next group competing in the Intermediate division,”

said Clayton. “But with the high averages that our bowlers have, we decided to enter two Advanced-division teams, and their performance was outstanding.

Clayton added that, with this year’s team, he could have entered four Advanced teams, whereas other schools have one and many schools do not compete at all at the Advanced level.

“The work that these bowlers do in practice and their ability to compete when it counts is a testament of the kind of young people we have in the bowling program,” he said. “Fifteen bowlers averaging over 150 in tournament play is a lot, and we have five more that are close to getting there.”

The Artesia #1 team was led in their winning performance by Alex Harmon with games of 270-173, thus averaging 221 for the day and raising his season average to 220 per game. Additional Artesia #1 bowlers were Justin Weddige, 203-192, Ethan Velo, 197-181, Coy Moorhead, 191-181, and Tyler Jeter, 187-179. In addition to rolling team games of 943 and 1011, the Advanced #1 team bowled Baker system games of 252-248-203-193-193.

Artesia #2 added the runner-up trophy, with Aaron Davis leading the way with his games of 215-184. He was supported by Xavier Ybarra, 213-174, Miguel Gallegos, 165, Joah James, 161, and TJ Thalman, 150. Artesia # 2 made their charge to the second-place position with strong Baker system games of 215-213-195-190-189.

The Novice division of the Espanola tournament saw the Bulldogs take the third-place trophy in the 16-team division. Artesia #4 was paced by Logan McNeely with games of 166-144, Parker Johnson, 148-143, Kaden Sallee, 144-136, Kamryn Kelsey, 139-139, and Quinn Tilton, 140.

The Rookie division Artesia #5 team finished in fourth place in the 14-team division and saw Jeremiah Gonzales roll games of 134- 123, Paydon Kniepkamp, 131, Samantha Boebert, 131, and Syleen Aranda, 120.

“We put five brand-new bowlers together, and they showed how far they have come in a short period of time by having a nice finish in a large division,” said Clayton.