The school from Puyallup's South Hill got its second consecutive state individual champion and is in strong position to repeat as team champ.
UNIVERSITY PLACE — Courtney Couch’s ability to block out distractions is part of what makes her difficult to beat.
But with her guard down after winning the Class 4A state girls bowling championship Friday at Narrows Plaza Bowl, her lack of focus cost her four takes during an on-camera interview.
Having Emerald Ridge High School teammate Gabbie Bostwick making faces behind the camera operator didn’t help.
“With bowling, it’s all mental,” Bostwick said. “She knows how to zone me out. But when it’s away from bowling …”
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Emerald Ridge bowlers showed again that they’re in a different league. Three Jaguars finished in the top 12 to put the school from Puyallup’s South Hill in strong position to win its third consecutive state team championship. Bowling resumes at 8 a.m. Saturday.
Couch gave Emerald Ridge its second consecutive 4A individual title. Carys Bailey of Klahowya in Silverdale defended her 3A/2A championship.
Couch, a junior, stayed strong and steady on a day when many of the top bowlers’ scores fluctuated. She finished with a six-game average of 184, knocking down 1,102 pins — 44 more than runner-up Ashley Johnson of Rogers of Puyallup.
Johnson bowled a 227 in her fifth game to get within 25 pins of Couch entering the final game. But Couch rolled a 189 in her sixth game while Johnson got a 170.
“I don’t usually get nervous,” Couch said. “I wasn’t all amped up. I wasn’t fidgeting or anything like that. I’ve just practiced enough where I’m confident in what I do. I’ve also been bowling a lot more this year.”
Couch and defending 4A champ Shannon Dexter were a formidable 1-2 punch for Emerald Ridge this season on an undefeated team. Dexter, headed to the University of Central Missouri on a partial bowling scholarship, opened with a 133 but finished strong with a 209 in her final game to take sixth.
“It feels awesome to have Courtney win the state championship title. She’s like my little sister,” Dexter said. “I feel so honored that I could be here to watch her do that. To place where I did was a big accomplishment, too.”
The Puyallup School District’s three high schools swept the top three individual spots and five of the top seven in 4A. Puyallup’s Jessica Bubnich finished third, only two pins behind Johnson.
In the team race, Emerald Ridge racked up 4,939 pins with South Hill neighbor Rogers next at 4,514. Those results will combine with Saturday’s Baker tournament to determine the championship.
Emerald Ridge and Rogers bowlers know each other well.
“It’s crazy. It is all based on boundary lines,” Emerald Ridge coach Alan McCormack said. “We’re just extremely fortunate that we’re on the right side of Meridian (Avenue) and the right side of the other cross street because all of these girls live within three-to-four miles of each other.”