Brianna Oftedahl, left, and Bree Tlamka of Albert Lea practice Thursday for the South Central Conference girls’ bowling tournament. Albert Lea already qualified for the state tournament by finishing first place in the conference at the conclusion of the regular season. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Brianna Oftedahl, left, and Bree Tlamka of Albert Lea practice Thursday for the South Central Conference girls’ bowling tournament. Albert Lea already qualified for the state tournament by finishing first place in the conference at the conclusion of the regular season. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea girls’ bowling team earns automatic state bid

Published 2:36am Friday, April 4, 2014

The Albert Lea girls’ high school bowling team is four for four.

Girls Minnesota High School Bowling has been in existence for four years, and Albert Lea qualified for the state tournament each year.

Albert Lea took second at state in 2011, first in 2012 and fourth in 2013.

The Albert Lea High School girls’ bowling team poses for a photo at Holiday Lanes. From left are Rachel Reichl, Angela Riekens, Bree Tlamka, Brianna Oftedahl, Makena Hall, Hannah Senne and Tiffany Hallisy. — Submitted
The Albert Lea High School girls’ bowling team poses for a photo at Holiday Lanes. From left are Rachel Reichl, Angela Riekens, Bree Tlamka, Brianna Oftedahl, Makena Hall, Hannah Senne and Tiffany Hallisy. — Submitted

This year, the team took first place in the South Central Conference standings to earn an automatic seed at the state tournament.

“We’re excited to go back again,” said Albert Lea senior captain Brianna Oftedahl.

Oftedahl has bowling scholarship offers from two schools: Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, and Midland College in Fremont, Neb. She plans to major in elementary education.

“I’m going to Midland on Monday, so I’ll decide from there,” Oftedahl said. “I like both coaches.”

Despite posting a 13-2 record in overall matches, Albert Lea coach Loren Kaiser said the season had a rocky start.

“In the first match, we lost all five games,” he said. “I thought we’d have a long season, and there was no way we’d make the state tournament. But then we’ve only lost one match since. It’s a total turnaround.”

Kaiser credited the team’s success to the players accepting his advice to concentrate.

“I learned a lot when I started listening to him,” said Albert Lea sophomore Rachel Reichl. “He says we’re coachable now.”

Albert Lea is ranked No. 3 in the state. North St. Paul/Roseville/Tartan is ranked No. 1 and Mabel-Canton/Rushford-Peterson/Le Roy-Ostrander/Preston/Chatfield is No. 2.

Albert Lea produced three South Central All-Conference players this season. All-Conference honors are given to the top 12 bowlers with the best fill percentage. Fill percentage is calculated by adding a player’s strikes and spares and dividing the sum by the total number of frames.

The top six players earn First Team accolades and the next six are on the Second Team. Bree Tlamka, a junior, and Oftedahl made the First Team for Albert Lea, and Reichl was on the Second Team.

Tlamka was second in the conference with a fill percentage of 82.31, 62 strikes and 59 spares. Oftedahl was third with a fill percentage of 80.4, 100 strikes — the most in the conference — and 60 spares. Reichl earned the last spot on the Second Team with a fill percentage of 67.14, 43 strikes and 51 spares.

Five other teams are in Albert Lea’s conference: Mankato East, Mankato West, Owatonna, the Faribault Storm and the Faribault Thunder.

The South Central Conference is one of four conferences in the league with a total of 39 teams. Sixteen teams qualify for the state tournament.

Although Albert Lea is a lock for the state tournament because it won the regular season conference crown, more teams will have a chance to qualify for state at the conference tournament at 1:30 p.m. April 12 at J&J Bowling Center in Faribault. The state tournament will start at 10 a.m. April 26 at Southway Bowl in St. Cloud.

Albert Lea girls’ bowling is not a sanctioned Minnesota State High School League activity. It is administered by the Bowling Proprietors Association of Minnesota.

Two graduates of Albert Lea High School who participated on the girls’ bowling team are competing at the collegiate level. Paige Boyum is on the bowling team at Waldorf College, and Mariah Jacobson is bowling for Monmouth College in New Jersey.