When she arrived at Garden City High School for her freshman year, Angelina Leeper had little idea of what her bowling career would look like.
In her wildest dreams, it would have been difficult to imagine that there would be one Class 6A state championship and a pair of runner-up finishes in her freshman, sophomore and junior seasons.
Now a senior, and one of the leaders of the Lady Buffs, Leeper made the next step of her career — both bowling and academic-wise — a reality when she signed an NJCAA National Letter-of-Intent to attend Barton Community College in Great Bend next fall.
“It means a lot because I don’t have to worry so much about money and I can focus on school work and my bowling,” Leeper said a couple of days after her signing ceremony on Tuesday. “I want to be a nurse, pay off my school, go back to school and become a pediatric surgeon. This is the best way to realize my goals.”
When Leeper arrives in Great Bend in the fall, she will join two former Lady Buffs teammates — Alexis Leon and Faith Whited — on the Lady Cougar bowling team.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Leeper said. “I’ve never worked with Coach (Mike Perry), but Alexis and Faith are having a good time, but the scholarship was the big factor, too.”
Each of her three-plus seasons has seen an improvement in her bowling game, Leeper said. Citing a lot of hard work through practice and honing her fundamental skills, Leeper said there were improvements made each season.
“I’ve focused a lot more each year, and that has allowed me to hold my position on follow through much better and I can hit my mark more consistently,” she said. “That will affect how the ball goes into the pocket.”
It was her freshman season in which the Lady Buffs captured their first team championship, followed by a two runner-up finishes in each of her sophomore and junior seasons.
“It’s exciting to think about the possibilities of winning again,” Leeper said. “I have cried so many times when we finished second. Team chemistry is a big factor and when everyone’s cheering each other on, it makes bowling so much easier. Everyone just does a great job.”
The Lady Buffs will first go through regional qualifying to reach the state once again, and then at the state tournament, they will bowl three games of American 10-pin and then the scores will result in pairings for the final portion under the Baker Format.
In that format, each team has 5 bowlers, with each bowler rolling only two frames, but not in consecutive order. Thus, a bowler will roll in the first-sixth, second-seventh, third-eighth, fourth-ninth and fifth-tenth frames.
“We have a lot of cheers to help us stay focused and positive,” Leeper said. “I just hate waiting, but it’s the format we use. You just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
For now, Leeper is focused on the remaining schedule, which includes the Great Plains Invitational in Wichita this weekend, the Campus Invitational the following week and then going through the Western Athletic Conference double-dual format to determine the league championship, something they won a year ago.
Goals remain the same for Leeper and her teammates – win WAC, regional and then compete for a state championship. It would be the capstone to a four-year run that Leeper could only imagine when she arrived at GCHS.