To say expectations are high for Starkville High Schoolâ€™s boys and girls bowling teams would be an understatement.
The excitement coming from SHS coach Jim Philamlee is evident.
"I feel better about this yearâ€™s team than I have in a long time,â€ť Philamlee said. â€śThis is the seventh year for the teams and I feel like the tools are in place for these teams to be some of our most successful to date.â€ť
Some of those tools include a slate of team members who are ready to step in and make an immediate impact.
Qualifying for State is the goal for the Starkville team. Making it that far will be nothing new for the Jackets, who finished third in last yearâ€™s postseason action, but this year the team is looking for a higher spot on the leaderboard.
For the boys, Philamlee is looking to Cody Prewitt and Alex Newman to lead the team to their goal. SHS teammates Hugh Stone and Seth Prewitt are also going to be looked upon to guide the team on their quest.
On the Lady Jacket lanes, Philamlee is looking to a new addition to help the team on their journey to State.
â€śOur girlsâ€™ squad was already tough, but during the summer we were fortunate to pick up another athlete for the team,â€ť said Philamlee. â€śWe are expecting her to come in and make an immediate impact and greatly improve our girls' chances this year.â€ť
Capitalizing on talent will not be the only task for the Jackets and Lady Jackets if they want to secure a spot in the postseason, they will also have to overcome some tough teams in their division. According to Philamlee, if the teams can make it passed Olive Branch and Tupelo, then they will be on their way to a spot competing for a state championship.
Olive Branch and Tupelo will not be the only teams standing in the way of Starkvilleâ€™s journey. Statewide there are 47 bowling teams and each one gets the opportunity to compete in the regionals, but of those only the top eight make it to state.
Joining the Prewitt brothers, Newman and Stone on the Jacketsâ€™ quest for state will be Brandon Le, Daniel Montgomery, Ethan Tucket and Tyler Dawkins, while the Lady Jackets are composed of Akala Greenwood, Skyler Runnels, Vanessa Collins, Autumn Lowe, Tashara Staples, Amber Miller, Savannah Lee and Tia Robinson.
Competing alongside the older teams will be a squad of junior varsity bowlers that comprises Nathan Smith, Ryan Picard, Gus Willis, Jamie Forrester, Kris McCarter, Waverly Yeatman, James May and Blake Miller.
The trek to being a part of that top eight begins today for the Jackets and Lady Jackets as they compete against Olive Branch on the road.