For the fifth straight year, both the Stanhope Elmore bowling teams reached the AHSAA Championships in Pelham. The Mustangs fell short of the ultimate goal but they still had several top performances during the week and were happy to cap off another successful season with bright hopes for the future.

“There was no letdown really,” Stanhope Elmore coach Jacquelyn Wynn said. “It’s about who shows up to bowl that day. Sometimes you just get outplayed. We still showed up all season long so we had a good overall season.”

Meghan Best helped get the week started when she bowled a 243 in the second game the first day, the highest single-game score in the girls tournament. Best led the Mustangs to a 1,039 in that game, setting a new state tournament record.

“Actually, I didn’t realize that until right now,” Wynn said. “That was fun. We have such a young group of girls so we’re looking good for years to come. Everything is looking great for the future. The girls had no pressure on them. We automatically assume we’re bowling well and that’s the best part of our mentality.”

The Mustangs sandwiched their new record high with an 809 and an 803 to secure the No. 3 seed for bracket play Friday. Stanhope Elmore opened the second day by breezing past Dothan, 1,402-943, the biggest margin of victory in the first round.

Stanhope wasted no time in the second round, jumping ahead of Baker early and easing to another win to move into the semifinals against No. 2 Thompson. The Mustangs fell behind early and never recovered, posting their lowest total in a 1,463-1,305 defeat.

“There is a little bit of frustration,” Wynn said. “You hate to lose but they are tired and they’re at the point where they can’t bowl all day. It’s OK to come up a little short and I think this was a good learning experience for us.”

Best finished as the third highest individual scorer on the girls side, posting 601 in three games. Kacy Marshal finished fifth with 576 and Samantha Wilson rounded out the top 15 with 502.

“It lets them know that this is a team event,” Wynn said. “You can win as an individual but its better when a lot of the girls are up there together. They push each other and that competition in itself is fantastic.”

On the boys side, Stanhope posted three scores above 850 on the first day but the Mustangs could not break 900 in any of the three games, sending them into bracket play as the No. 13 seed. Stanhope fell to No. 4 Hillcrest on its way to a 1,492-1,292 defeat in the first round.

Josh Wilson led the boys team, finishing with three games above 200 on the first day including a team-high 220. He finished 12th in the individual standings.

“Josh keeps our boys together,” Wynn said. “He is the backbone of the boys team. How he does is how the team does. He coaches them as much as I do.”

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.