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Special Olympics Washington’s Fall Games

JBLM bowlers ready for fun, competition

Northwest Guardian

Published: 01:28PM December 7th, 2017

Northwest Guardian

Team member Kamryn Dunblazier, 10, prepares for the upcoming Special Olympics Washington Fall Games at Bowl Arena Lanes Nov. 30.

If you go

What: 2017 Special Olympics Washington’s Fall Games — Bowling

When: Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: Kenmore Lanes, 7638 Bothell Way NE, Kenmore

Five bowlers for Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Special Olympics team are entering uncharted territory as the first JBLM rollers to compete at a state-level competition for Special Olympics Washington.

They aren’t alone; SOWA’s 2017 Fall Games will feature bowling for the first time. Alongside flag football, gymnastics and volleyball, the bowling tournament takes place during a weekend of competitions within King County. Bowling will be hosted by Kenmore Lanes in Kenmore Sunday.

In previous years, the JBLM Tigers competed in the SOWA Capital Bowling Tournament as the team’s one and only competition, but with Seattle hosting the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games, JBLM coach Genia Stewart said it would be awkward if Washington wasn’t represented on the lanes.

Stewart said although the five kids who were selected for the state competition are extremely excited, they aren’t putting a pressure on them to win.

“We want them to have fun and learn the sport, but a little friendly competition never hurt anybody,” Stewart said.

Kamryn Dunblazier, 10, one of JBLM’s juniors unified division team bowlers, received an early Christmas present in time for the SOWA Fall Games: a brand new bowling ball. It’s a navy blue and neon orange 11-pound EBS Bowling ball nicknamed “The Horseshoe.”

The holes were drilled fresh at Bowl Arena Lanes’ pro shop moments before the team practiced Nov. 30. Kamryn’s parents, Crystal and Ryan, said they wanted her to get used to the ball before using it in a competition.

Kamryn is still learning the sport; she joined the team last year.

“Both (sets) of our parents and our cousins bowled all the time, so it’s fun to see her do it as well,” Crystal Dunblazier said.

Kamryn will be on a team — with Thomas Allen, 9, Ryan Carr, 9, and Alex Johnson, 13 — that earned its gold medal in the Capital Bowling Tournament’s Division 109 for unified four-person teams.

Kamryn said she knows she’s in a special position as one of five bowlers to go to state from a team that had 36 compete at the regional level. The group collected a total of 22 medals with gold in eight divisions.

“To me, it means all the other players who weren’t selected, I’m representing them and my family,” Kamryn said.

In addition to the unified team, Stewart’s son Kyle, 19, was selected to compete in the senior singles division. During the regional tournament’s Division 307, he had scores of 203 and 206.

Excited for the new experience, Kyle said he’s just hoping to have fun and that if he wins, he wins. He wouldn’t mind going for some personal-best results.

“I always try to get a better score than my last round; I’m still trying to get a 300,” said Kyle, whose personal best is 218.

Similar to the selection process for the state games, all gold medalists from the state level will be entered into a drawing to be selected for Washington’s team at the 2018 Special Olympics USA Games.

Only five bowlers and one coach will be chosen from the Fall Games.

Stewart said having athletes represent Washington at the national stage would be special not only for bowling, but for the entire JBLM Tigers program.

“It will be the first time anyone from here has gone to nationals, as long as I’ve been here,” said Stewart, who joined the program in 2010. “It would be cool to represent our state.”

Dean Siemon: 253-477-0235, @deansiemon