A senior at Waterloo East High is going out with a bang.

On Monday, February 22, Stephanie Burge brought home the Class 2A individual state championship for bowling.

 

Her first ball was a 9-0 which ended up being an open frame. For some bowlers that would mean their shots of winning were gone, but not for Stephanie.

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"From that point forward I mentally told myself, you can do it and don't give up," Burge explained. Her coaches had been telling her team all season to forget about any bad tries they had, and just focus on the next frame.

The next frame she ended up getting a strike...

Then she got another one...

And another one...

She ended up bowling strikes for almost ten frames. You could hear the excitement erupting from her voice when she recounted her comeback.

"It kept me on my toes," the young champion beamed.

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They were there to have fun, and maybe repeat last year's success.

This is the second year in a row that Waterloo East had a player take home the individual champion title. Last year, the outgoing senior Abigail Williams

"I was extremely happy with it," the current champion explained "I personally feel like I've accomplished a lot."

And she's grown quite a bit too. When she first started out on the team as a freshman, Burge was averaging around 140 per game. Almost four years later, when she stepped off of the lane with the championship title, she also had an average ranging around 220.

"It was a great way to end the season, especially with having my team backing me up the way they did."

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Stephanie has done other sports, but something nothing feels quite the same as putting on her bowling shoes and knocking down pins. Bowling is a huge family affair for the Burges. Stephanie has been playing for almost nine years now. Her aunt got her started in the sport through a Saturday morning youth league, and it just clicked for her. Her father, Dale Burgh has witnessed firsthand the progress she's made over the years.

"I'm real proud of her," Mr. Burge bragged to me over the phone, "she can read lane conditions better than I can."

He's bowled with her for family doubles a few times. One of the perks of having a star-bowler for a daughter is that she can help you out a bit.

Chuckling, Burge exclaimed, "She doubles or triples my score sometimes!"

Both Mr. Burge and Head Coach Mike Weber laud her natural gift for the sport, but they recognize that something that sets her a part from other players is her willingness to be coached and eagerness to improve her game.

"She doesn't really even need to have a lot of coaching. When her coaches tell her something she applies that," her father said.

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Coach Weber has watched Burge improve over the past four years.

"She's steadily progressed, and as she grew up she learned her own game," the Head Coach of Waterloo East's girls bowling team said. "She was able to keep improving year after year."

Burge competed in the same tournament over the course of her high school career. Each year she gradually grew as a player, and slowly moved up the ranks. Her first state tournament had her placing in 40th place, sophomore year coming in at 12th, junior year she placed 7th, and finally winning it all her senior year.

Stephanie's biggest inspiration? She appreciates people who give it their all, and always try her best. One of those people for her is her coach.

"He's really helped me grow as a bowler," she glowed about her coach.

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When I brought up the fact that Stephanie said that he inspired her so, I could hear his smile coming through the phone.

"She's fun to coach with, she's always upbeat," Weber said.

Stephanie Burge will be signing with Hawkeye Community College on Thursday, March 4th. She plans to stay, study, and play there for two years. Stephanie and her father are looking forward to get the general education credits out of the way, while continuing to bowl.

Coach Weber is looking forward to keeping up with her collegiate play, especially since Hawkeye is so close to home.

What does a state championship bowler study in college you may ask? Well, for Stephanie she may be trading in the bowling alley for a crime lab. She hopes to pursue Forensic Science.

"It's kind of a funny story, the whole reason I want to become a forensic scientist is because of the show NCIS," she said. "It's strange to me that I fell in love with what I want to do because of a TV show."

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