CCLP/TJ MAXWELL - Cove senior Dakota Stutz sends a shot down the lane during the Central Texas District finale Tuesday at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen. Stutz qualified for the regional tournament set for Sunday March 6 at Hallmark Lanes. Stutz will compete as an individual as well as with her coed teammates.CCLP/TJ MAXWELL - Cove’s Chris Ochoa pulls back for his shot during the Central Texas District finale Tuesday at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen. Ochoa and the rest of the coed squad qualified for regionals.

The Right Stutz

Cove senior bowler Dakota Stutz retains singles title
Cove Leader-Press
KILLEEN - The Copperas Cove coed bowling team clinched a spot in the postseason despite dropping their final two matches of the season to district frontrunners Harker Heights and Ellison. 
The Bulldawgs fell to 6-3 with Tuesday’s loss to the Eagles at Hallmark Lanes in Killeen but wrapped up the third and final playoff spot with a two-game advantage over their next opponent Shoemaker (4-5). 
The coed squad of Chris Ochoa, Gavin Stutz, Ashlee Huffman, Anthony Rodriquez and team-leader Dakota Stutz fell behind the all-boy Eagles’ squad, led by James Schirripa, 5-2, after match play with Dakota Stutz claiming one point with a 429-344 win over Schirripa. She bested Schirripa 235-194 in game one after hitting five strikes in a row and not having a single open frame.
One open frame in the second game prevented her from topping the 200 mark again but she easily downed her opponent 194-150. 
“I’m happy but I had a goal to beat everybody in district,” said Stutz. “Not just the girls.”
Ochoa led the way to the second point for Cove with a 379-335 win over Ellison’s Jeffrey Stamp. He just edged stamp in the first game with a 179-171 score before posting an above average 200 to Stamp’s 164 score.
Newcomer and Dakota’s younger brother, Gavin Stutz, edged out Ellison’s Michael Gredler 194-190 in their first matchup but Gredler posted a score 34 points better than his average in he second game to win 215-146 to claim the point for the Eagles. 
Cove pulled within one point to begin the Baker’s format team play where the five teammates take turns with each player bowling two frames.
The Dawgs shot a 178 in game one to best Ellison’s score of 164 but the Eagles took back control in the next game to take a 34 pin lead into the final two games. They bested the Dawgs 213-165 to take the advantage. 
Ellison pushed their pin lead to 55 with a 189-168 win in game three and finished out the contest with a 183-157 win in the final game to win team play 8-2 and the match 13-4.
Stutz finished the season atop the Texas High School Bowling Club Central Texas Standings with a 227.75 average to best all other bowlers in the district – boy or girl.
“Dakota led the team and led the district in average,” said her coach and father Jerry Stutz. “She’s put in a lot of hard work. She’s not practicing as much this year as she used to because she’s focusing on school. She’s been accepted to Stephen F. Austin and hopefully, she’ll bowl there. If not, she’ll get her degree in nursing and be happy.” 
She topped the five girls’ qualifiers by nearly 20 pins. Amanda Morgan of Killeen finished second with a 208.66 while Sierra Ciesiolka of Harker Heights (202.27), Samantha Kriner of Ellison (196.50) and Mackenzie Everett of Harker Heights (184.06) make up the rest of the girl’s regional qualifiers. 
Ochoa finished seventh in the individual standings with his 183.55 average. Schirripa (215.11) and Stamp (192.27) bookend a trio of Knights in Mark Styles (210.77), Michael Williams (209.66) and Michael Dixon-Dates (199.27) for the boys’ regional qualifying spots.
Stutz looks to defend her home turf when Hallmark Lanes in Killeen hosts the regional tournament on Sunday, March 6 and earn her thirdstraight trip to the state tournament. 
“I just need to keep a calm head and keep the shot consistent and not think too much,” Stutz said about winning the regional singles title. “I want to win because I haven’t won one yet. I was so close last year.” 
Coach and dad says he thinks this is her year.
“Personally, I want to see here win the singles title,” said the senior Stutz. “This is her house and people shouldn’t be able to come into her house and beat her.”
She has the added comfort of competing at the scene of her record-setting round of 546 set back in January and that confidence will help.
“I feel I’m up for the challenge,” said Stutz. “I don’t want to sound overly confident but I’m so comfortable there, anyone can come in and I’m going to take the title.”
Stutz finished 24th at the state tournament last year with a three-game total of 585. Sydney Strohm of Schertz Cibolo Steele won the title with a combined 710. She finished 10th in 2014 with a three-game total of 622. Rachel Goehring of Amarillo won with a 717 total.
After taking both the girls’ and boys’ teams to the state tournament two years ago where they finished fifth and eighth, respectively, and qualifying Stutz as an individual last year, coach Stutz is proud of his team’s accomplishments this year after the team dwindled from a boys’ and girls’ varsity squad last year to one coed squad this year.
“We qualified for regionals and that’s all I could ask for this year,” said coach Stutz. “The kids have all improved. We’ve just got to work on staying happy.”
He also knows their worst enemy is the one between their ears. His players need to have a short memory if they are going to compete at regionals.
“They’ve got to stay focused,” he said. “If they miss, they start to get down and it can get further and further and makes the next kid miss and then people start pointing fingers. That doesn’t work at all.”


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