Russell has high hopes entering state play

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Its overall record this year is 82-10, an .891 winning percentage that includes four team titles, five runner-up finishes and two thirds. It won its regional title last week with a perfect 12-0 mark.

What more could the Russell High School scholars bowl team hope for this year?

A state trophy would be nice, said Broncos coach Blaine Maier.

"Their goal is to make it into the finals," said Maier, in his sixth year as their coach, "then go from there."

Russell is led by three seniors who have plenty of state experience, having qualified for the season finale the past two years. Christopher Gullick and Ethan Kaufman also were on the 2009-10 RHS team that placed fourth at regionals, one spot out of qualifying for state.

This time, Maier said, they would like to join classmate Nathan Barney in closing out their senior campaigns in style.

Russell barely missed making finals at state by one place the past two years -- in 4A two years ago and in 3A last year.

The difference this year, Maier said, "is that we've been good at math, but last year at state we had trig and calc questions, and we didn't have anyone taking those classes."

This year, they do, and Maier and the Broncos have reaped the benefits.

They hope for more of the same Saturday, when they compete in pool play against three schools -- Pittsburg's St. Mary's-Colgan, Riley County and Ellsworth -- that have placed in the top four at state in recent years.

"We've been consistent all year," Maier said. "We just want to keep that consistency Saturday."

Completing Russell's team will be juniors Isaiah Stierlen and sophomores Sydney Cisneros and Shiv Gupka.