In the last month, Ankeny Fanatic has unveiled its all-time Ankeny teams in boys’ and girls’ basketball, wrestling and boys’ swimming.
Now, in order to complete the winter sports, it’s time to focus on bowling–the newest of the sports that are sanctioned by the high school governing bodies.
The girls’ program began in the 2007-08 season after the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union voted to approve bowling as a varsity sport. Two years later, the boys’ program began after the sport was sanctioned by the Iowa High School Athletic Association.
Mike Mullins coached both Ankeny teams through the end of the 2013-14 season, when he announced his retirement. He guided the Hawkettes to five winning seasons in seven years and a combined record of 44-32 while also leading the Hawks to their first state tournament berth in 2013.
Paul Gibbins was hired to take over the program in 2014, but he left the school district for another position before the season even started. He was replaced by interim coach Matt Bowers, who helped the Hawks earn another trip to state in 2015.
Since then, the Ankeny teams have had a different head coach every season. Barry Roberts took over the programs in the 2015-16 season and was then followed by Mack Van Zante, Jim Robidoux and Hannah Munson.
Munson’s former teammate at Grand View, Lane Richtsmeier, became the head coach last year. He guided the Hawks to a 6-5 record and a fifth-place finish in the Class 3A state tournament in 2020, the best performances in boys’ program history.
Despite the high turnover of coaches, both teams have had some success in recent years. The Hawkettes went 5-5 in the 2017-18 season under Robidoux, their best record in five years.
It wasn’t hard to find six players to fill out each of the girls’ and boys’ teams. Here, then, is the Ankeny Fanatic all-time Ankeny bowling squads.
Emma Bryant. She is one of only two individual state qualifiers in Ankeny girls’ history. In the 2011-12 season, she bowled a 400 series to place third in the regional meet, allowing her to qualify along with teammate Brianna Payton. She went on to bowl a 320 series at the state tournament. She twice was the team’s top scorer during the season, helping the Hawkettes to a 10-1 record, the best mark in program history. Bryant played a key role as Ankeny won back-to-back CIML Central Conference titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, going a combined 16-0 against league opponents during that stretch. In 2011, she bowled a 597 series for three games to win the Central Conference individual crown. “Emma was very talented,” Mullins said. “She was part of a group of young ladies who were good friends and liked each other and enjoyed bowling.”
Jen Christianson. She was a three-year varsity member for the Hawkettes, helping the team to a 26-8 record from 2010-13. As a sophomore, she bowled a 445 series in a win over Urbandale, setting a school record at the time. The following year, she bowled a 452 series for three games to place 11th at the Central Conference meet, helping Ankeny to the team title. As a senior, she took sixth at the 10-team CIML Invitational with a 396 series and was later named to the all-district second team. “Jen was very consistent. She did a great job,” Mullins said. “All of the girls on those teams were very dedicated. I was very fortunate.”
Brianna Payton. She was a four-year varsity regular and a two-time state qualifier under Mullins. She won a regional title as a freshman in 2010 with a 430 series, including a 257 in her second game when she bowled eight consecutive strikes. Payton went on to place third at the state tournament with a 656 series. She was in a tie for sixth place among the top 10 scorers after the first two games, but then bowled a 223 in her final game. As a sophomore, she bowled a 446 series in a win over Johnston, breaking the school record that was set by Christianson about a month earlier. She just missed qualifying for state by six pins that season, but then bounced back the next year to place second at the regional meet with a 404 series, allowing her to earn a second trip to state. Payton was also the runner-up at the conference meet as a junior, posting a 607 series for three games. As a senior, she was the team’s top scorer at nine different meets and earned all-district honors for the third time. She went on to play for Mount Mercy, becoming the first Ankeny bowler to earn a college scholarship. Payton is the captain of our girls’ team. “Brianna was a super competitor,” Mullins said. “And she always had a very positive attitude no matter what happened.”
Sydney Sears. She was a varsity regular in parts of all four of her seasons on the team. As a freshman in the 2014-15 campaign, she led the Hawkettes with a 322 average and was the team’s top scorer at four of the first six meets. As a senior in 2017-18, she set a school record with a 471 series during a win over Marshalltown. Sears later placed fourth at the Central Conference meet with a 386 and then closed out her high school career with a third-place finish at the regional meet, where she bowled a 373. She was named to the all-district first team. “I really appreciated Sydney’s expertise in her technique, and she truly was the model for both the boys and the girls on how to throw a good ball,” Robidoux said. “I remember at tryouts that year she rolled the high series for both the boys and the girls, and I was very proud of her. She was excited to earn that score as the top bowler on the team.”
Isabel Tetmeyer. She has been a varsity regular since she joined the squad as a freshman in 2017, when she earned all-district first-team honors after placing sixth at the conference meet with a 366 and eighth at the regional meet with a 334. “I had seen her bowl in leagues prior to our season beginning, and I knew that her parents were very involved in bowling,” Robidoux said. “It’s always great to have a kid like Isabel who is such a student of the sport and loves it.” As a sophomore, she bowled a school-record game of 253 during a meet at Fort Dodge, then topped that performance one week later during a meet against Dowling Catholic at Great Escape, which became Ankeny’s home venue after Plaza Lanes burned down in December of 2017. Tetmeyer bowled a 483 series, including a 279 game, in the Hawkettes’ win over Dowling–setting a pair of school records. Later that season, she bowled a 452 series to win the Central Conference individual title. She was the team’s top scorer at 12 of the 13 meets, then led the way in 10 of the 13 meets during the 2019-20 season. “Isabel has a lot of mental toughness,” Richtsmeier said. “She has a lot of drive and determination to beat the boys and to be the best.”
Kaylinn Willson. She was a four-year varsity regular on the best teams in program history, helping the Hawkettes to a 32-13 record from 2009-13. As a freshman, she placed 10th at the Central Conference meet with a 481 series for three games. Two years later, she tied for eighth at the conference meet with a 464 series as Ankeny recorded a 19-pin victory over Johnston. She was the top scorer on three occasions for a team that finished 10-1, including a 435 series in a win over Valley. Willson placed 10th at the CIML Invitational with a 351 as a senior and was later named to the all-district second team. “Kaylinn was a very smart young lady,” Mullins said. “She loved to bowl and put in a lot of time outside of practice to get better.”
Ian Baskins. He was a three-year varsity regular who earned all-district honorable mention as a senior in 2013, when he helped the Hawks to an eighth-place finish in the Class 2A state tournament. At the regional meet, Baskins bowled back-to-back games of 279 and 267 to set a school record with a 546 series while winning the individual title. He also helped Ankeny to a school-record total of 3,211, allowing the Hawks to edge Marshalltown by four pins for the team crown. “Ian was so focused that day,” Mullins said. “Bowling is kind of funny–you just stay away from those kids that are having a great day. It’s kind of like a pitcher who is throwing a no-hitter; you just stay away from them. I remember he sat over on one side, and we just left him alone. He was on fire that day. I don’t know if anyone will come close to beating his record.” He led the team in scoring four times that season. As a junior, he was Ankeny’s top scorer in four of the last five meets, including the regional meet where he placed second with a 434 series but did not qualify for state. As a sophomore, Baskins bowled a 425 series at the regional meet, where he had nine straight strikes and a 267 in his second game.
Tyler Follett. He was a three-year varsity regular who led the Hawks in scoring 14 times in his career. As a senior in 2016, he placed 10th at the CIML Invitational with a 441 series. Earlier that year, he bowled a 478 series–the highest of his career. As a junior, he placed sixth at the regional meet with a 425 total, helping Ankeny to the team crown and a berth to state. He went on to bowl a 386 at the state tournament as the Hawks placed seventh in Class 3A. As a sophomore, Follett led the Hawks with a 398 average. He went on to bowl for Mount Mercy in college. “Tyler was very solid,” Mullins said. “He deserves to be on the all-time team.”
Gage Payton. Brianna’s younger brother has been a varsity regular since he joined the team as a freshman in 2017, when he placed ninth at the conference meet with a 397 series. “Bowling runs in his blood,” Robidoux said. “His family had great turnout at the events, and I appreciated how Gage blended into the team as a freshman playing with some upperclassmen. He just threw a big ball, and it was great to see those pins explode when Gage hit the pocket.” As a sophomore, Payton placed fifth at the conference meet with a 417 total. He then came on strong at the end of his junior season, placing fifth at the regional meet with a 458 and leading the Hawks to a runner-up finish that allowed them to qualify for state. Payton went on to place 15th in Class 3A with a 438 series. He bowled a 258 in his second game that included strikes in eight of his first nine frames. “Gage has been an amazing teammate,” Richtsmeier said. “He’s been able to see flaws in other people’s games and help them. He was my second pair of eyes when I couldn’t watch them.”
Garrett Schaeffer. He twice led Ankeny to the state tournament. As a senior in the 2014-15 season, he led the team with a 379 average and was the Hawks’ top scorer at five different meets. He placed third at the regional meet with a 433 series and then bowled a 405 at state to earn an 18th-place finish. As a junior, he placed second on the team with a 390 average. Schaeffer led the team in scoring five times as a sophomore, when he placed fourth at the state meet in 2013 with a 497 series. He began his opening game with eight consecutive strikes and finished with a 278. “Garrett was very solid,” Mullins said. “I’ve kept in touch with him, and he’s in the Navy right now. He was a very disciplined young man.”
Brandon Schumacher. He was a four-year varsity regular from 2016-20 under four different head coaches. As a freshman, he led the team in scoring seven times. He placed third in the conference meet with a 399, then took fourth at the regional meet with a 461 total. As a sophomore, he was the team’s top scorer at five different meets, including his seventh-place finish at the conference meet with a 403. “Brandon was one of my favorite kids to coach in any sport ever,” Robidoux said. “He always brought a smile and cheer to practice and the game. He always wanted to support his teammates, and it was clear to Brandon that everyone else came first before him. That’s a great way to set a team attitude.” Schumacher–who has been joined on the varsity team by his brother, Blake, in the last two years–led the squad in scoring five times as a junior. In his final season, he led the Hawks with a 400 average and bowled a career-best 490 series during a meet against Urbandale. He was the top scorer on three occasions for the best team in program history. “Brandon was an amazing leader,” Richtsmeier said. “We weren’t able to do captains this year due to time. But in my eyes, he was our captain. He wanted to go to state so bad, so he led the charge.” We’ll make Schumacher the captain of our boys’ team.
Andy Wittick. He was a second-team all-district pick in 2012-13, when he led the team in scoring four times and helped Ankeny to a 6-6 record. He placed fifth at the conference meet with a 447 series, then took third at the regional meet with a 458 total as the Hawks advanced to state for the first time. Wittick then bowled a 234 in his final game at state to finish with a 456 series. As a junior, he bowled a 508 series in a win over Johnston–setting a school record at the time. He later set another mark with a 299 game against the Dragons. “Andy was very, very nervous when he had a chance to bowl a perfect game, but that was a fun time,” Mullins said. “He was not very big in stature, but he was very solid in bowling. He stayed focused and was very consistent.” Wittick led the team in scoring eight times that season, including seven of the first eight meets. He placed eighth at the conference meet with a 606 series for three games to lead the Hawks to a third-place finish. As a sophomore, Wittick was the team’s top scorer at nine of the 13 meets and led the squad with a 386 average. He placed third at the conference meet with a 674 series.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The Ankeny Fanatic teams were selected by publisher Dan Holm, who consulted with former and current coaches before making his picks.)