2021 HHS bowling team

The Hutchinson High School bowling team is going to state for a third straight year. Members of the team are, from left, front row, Trenten Hanson, Mason Getz, Hayden Plaisance and Nolan Hoff; back row, Josh Quass and Bryce Maki. The team is coached by Michelle Maki.

For a third straight year, Hutchinson High School’s bowling team will roll against the best in Minnesota during the Class A State Bowling Championship this weekend. And for most of the team, it will be their final tournament as a Tiger.

“I’m just happy we made it to state,” senior Josh Quaas said. “Being consistent the last three years and making it, I think consistency is key.”

Consistency has certainly been one of Hutch’s calling cards the past three seasons. After missing out on state in 2017 and 2018, the Tigers have made the cut in 2019, 2020 and 2021. And one thing all three of those teams had in common were a core of four seniors — Quaas, Bryce Maki, Mason Getz and Nolan Hoff. For all but Maki, this will be their third and final trip to state. Maki also qualified with the team in 2016 as a seventh-grader, making this his fourth state appearance. But no matter how many times he goes, it never gets old celebrating with teammates.

“When you’re a team, you’re depending on everybody else to hold up their end,” Maki said about why he likes bowling with the Tigers compared to bowling individually. “It’s honestly better, because that way it’s spread out and everybody feels like they had a part toward the game.”

That team aspect of playing together was one of the many things that changed last fall as the world adjusted to the pandemic. In a normal season, teams have five players bowling per match and can bring extras as needed. But last year each team was limited to only three players. That meant splitting the team up, which was not as fun. The rules went back to normal this year, however, and the team was glad to be together again.

“It’s fun getting with everybody instead of being limited. It was a lot smaller team,” Hoff said. “That way we can sub people out and everybody is there to participate instead of, ‘here’s your three for the day.’”

Being back together not only made the season more fun, it proved to be helpful in their scoring as well. As a team the Tigers finished second in the South West Conference with a record of 10-5, and a team game high score for the season of 269. That was their best conference showing in the past three years.

The Tigers earned plenty of individual awards as well. Maki, Getz and Quaas were each named to the All-Conference First Team, and were Top 88 boys bowlers in the state with 77.33%, 77.27%, and 74.61% fill rates, respectively. Maki and Quaas were also named to the All-Honors Team, while Hoff earn All-Conference honorable mention with a 60% fill rate.

The experienced crew has also welcomed a couple of younger players to the varsity team as well. Sophomore Hayden Plaisance is making his first trip to state during his first year on varsity, and eighth-grader Trenten Hanson is also making his first trip to state. Although Hanson bowled with the JV team most of the year, coach Michelle Maki moved him up to varsity as a sixth man for tournament time. The two say they have really enjoyed playing varsity this year and are looking forward to state.

“All I know is the bowling alley is going to be huge, so that will be cool,” Plaisance said.

“I’m looking forward to not being under so much pressure,” added Hanson.

Following the regular season, the Tigers played in the South Super Regional, where only the top 12 teams out of 20 qualify for state. Hutchinson just missed finishing in the top eight of the first round of super regionals, which would have been an automatic bid to state. Instead they had to compete for one of the final four spots, and the Tigers ended up finishing ninth to make the cut.

Now the Tigers are one of 24 teams with a spot reserved for the state tournament Saturday, Dec. 4, at Mermaid Lanes in Moundsview. Hutchinson finished third in the state tournament last year, and they’re hoping for another top finish again. While first place is always the goal, Quaas and Maki said they’d be happy with a top-8 finish. Others are even more ambitious.

“I’d like to be in the top six, honestly,” Getz said. “It would be great, but there are a lot of good teams out there, and it all depends on the day and how everybody else does.”