Tristan Stewart hasn’t been bowling for a long time.
But since he started with the sport early in his high school career, the now-senior has ascended to reach the Texas High School Bowling Club state tournament in San Antonio.
Stewart, along with his Caney Creek High School Bowling Club teammates, were all set to participate in the state tournament, but it was canceled due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has halted school and public activities across the nation.
“I was let down,” Stewart said. “Mainly for the team because they’ve all worked hard to get where they had gotten, and it was taken away.”
Stewart is the leader of the program. A three-time regional competitor, it was his first time qualifying for state.
His teammates include sophomore Dakoda Roberts - who also made regionals in singles play - and first-year bowlers in senior Zach Humphreys, junior Josh Richards, and freshmen Julian Galan and Blake Brandon. The bowling club is coached by Kim Raska of Time To Spare Entertainment and is sponsored by Caney Creek teacher and coach Mark Whitworth.
“My favorite part about bowling is the competition,” Stewart said. “I’m a big fan of all sorts of competition. Our team has changed from year to year, but it has had a consistent connection with acceptance and our sense of humor, which is what helped us bond.”
Stewart started bowling just over two years ago when Time To Spare opened on Highway 105.
“I had never bowled in my life until sophomore year,” Stewart said. “The way I had gotten into it was because a bowling alley had opened up near me, and I was looking for something to do in my free time. So I gave it a shot and actually liked it.”
People told Stewart he was talented, which gave him confidence. His all-time best score is 290.
“I would say that I was a natural based on the positive reactions of the people around me that have been bowling most of their lives,” Stewart said.
The Panthers have found success as a team the past couple of years by reaching the regional tournament. Stewart qualified for the state tournament in singles play this year with a 214.4 average in five games at regionals. The top seven competitors advanced to state, and Stewart finished sixth to qualify as a singles player for the first time.
The team finished fifth at regionals, so everyone from Caney Creek qualified for the state tournament at the Bandera Bowling Center in San Antonio.
“It was exhilarating,” Stewart said. “I was so excited. I have made it to regionals for singles and team every single year, and this was my first time to make state for both.”
The regional tournament was played on March 1, nearly two weeks before the coronavirus pandemic began to actively disrupt life. The THSBC had to cancel the state tournament due to CDC and other local health recommendations.
“I had kept my head up in hopes of it getting rescheduled, but the chances are slim to none,” Stewart said. “I’m not a super emotional person. I just accepted that I couldn’t do anything about it. It is really unfortunate that for my senior year, I make it to the top and don’t get to show it.”
Stewart ends his high school career as a three-time all-district player and three-time regional singles and team qualifier. He is also a member of the track and field team as a high jumper.