The Bobcats' season is still alive.
They just had to sweat it out more than they wanted to.
Finishing four pins behind a red-hot Ankeny squad at Thursday's state qualifier at Totem Bowl, the Marshalltown boys' bowling team claimed one of the two at-large bids to earn their third consecutive trip to the Class 2A state meet.
Marshalltown posted the fourth-best score (3,207) in the state, though it wasn't enough to hold off the Hawks (3,211), which bested their match score average by more than 400 pins.
"Bowling is a funny game. You just never know who's going to get hot," MHS coach Jeremiah McKeever said. "We still did very well today. I can't complain about how our guys bowled."
Marshalltown is one of 10 teams headed to the state meet at Plaza Lanes on Feb. 22 in Des Moines. The meet starts at 1 p.m.
State Qualifying Meet
At Totem Bowl
Team Scores - 1. Ankeny 3,211, 2. Marshalltown 3,207. 3. Mason City 2,921, 4. Southeast Polk 2,874, 5. Urbandale 2,817
Champion - Ian Baskins, Ankeny, 546
MARSHALLTOWN (3,207) - Grant Whitmore 492, Aaron Schwandt 437, Floyd Speck 421, Kyle Bartles 415, Brett Wax 414, Dacoda Ewalt 373.
Team Scores - 1. Mason City 2,833 2. Southeast Polk 2,635, 3. Urbandale 2,488, 4. Ankeny 2,327, 5. Marshalltown 2,151
Champion - Rebecca Broermann, Mason City, 470
MARSHALLTOWN (2,151) - Tia Vergauwen 355, Lily Neuan 304, Mercedies Bills 286, Samantha Tocheri 286, Lindsay Wiegand 249, Kathleen Ferrin 247.
Bobcat senior Grant Whitmore also qualified individually with the state's fifth best series score of 496 and had a first game tally of 266. Ankeny's Ian Baskins topped the field with a 546, the second best score in Iowa.
Seeking their third straight qualifier title, the Bobcats trailed the Hawks by 11 pins (2,189-2,178) after the first two games. Marshalltown caught fire midway through the Baker games rattling off seven straight strikes in the third game to post a 245, before cooling off late. Holding a 70-pin advantage entering the final game of Bakers, the Bobcats missed a couple spare opportunities en route to a 183, as the Hawks rallied to take the top spot.
"We just didn't stay hungry in that last game and a couple spares caught us by surprise," McKeever said.
(Ankeny) happened to string together seven or eight in the last game and got around us."
Though the at-large bid still loomed for the Bobcats - who finished just 45 pins shy of their season best score, it was of little condolence to Whitmore immediately following their runner-up finish.
"It feels terrible - sitting here knowing that you have to get in by chance instead of winning your way in," Whitmore said. "It would be great (to get in). We might have to go in with a chip on our shoulders and tear it down. Just go in and do even better than we did today."
Aaron Schwandt rolled a 437 and Floyd Speck had a 421. Kyle Bartles added a 415, Brett Wax 414 and Dacoda Ewalt 373.
"We've got high hopes for state," McKeever said. "We'll just have to fine-tune those spares. We kind of ran out of gas in the end, but we'll have to carry it all the way through at state."
Ewalt and Schwandt both return from last year's fifth place team finish, while Ewalt claimed third individually.
The Bobcat girls team took fifth with a final tally of 2,151. Tia Vergauwen paced the Bobcats with a 355 series and Lily Neuan added a 304. Mercedies Bills and Samantha Tocheri each rolled a 286, Lindsay Wiegand had a 249 and Kathleen Ferrin 247.
Mason City won the team title with a score of 2,833, while the Mohawks' Rebecca Broermann claimed individual honors rolling a 470 series.
Besides Ankeny, Des Moines Lincoln (3,413) and Linn-Mar (3,274) were the only other squads that trumped the Bobcats.