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New Wenatchee bowling coach Jeremy Anders talks to his team in their locker room at Eastmont Lanes bowling alley before their match against Eastmont on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

Jeremy Anders helped start the Eastmont bowling program — which has won the last three 4A state bowling championships. Now at the helm of Wenatchee, he’s hoping to lead the Panthers down the same path.

But it’s not like he’s taking over a down program. The Panthers were 14-1 last year, regular-season champions in the Big 9. However, they faltered in the playoffs, losing to Eastmont for the district title and falling to third in state, as the Wildcats claimed another crown.

Anders feels like he can provide that missing element to push the Panthers over the top.

“I think I bring a pretty strong skill set for bowling in general. Over my coaching years, I’ve been successful in building teams and going to state, winning state. One of my strongest assets is making the team strong,” Anders said. “That’s something we did early at Eastmont and it really paid off. Making them a cohesive team is important. Bowling is such a mental sport. You have to be mentally strong but also mentally supportive.”

The new Wenatchee coach started bowling at a young age at Columbia Lanes in Wenatchee. He bowled competitively in junior high and high school on the boys’ travel team, competing in as many tournaments as he could.

While he was still at Wenatchee High School in 2002, they were pushing to get a high school program going at Eastmont.

“There was a real good core group of girls coming up. It actually didn’t work out. They didn’t join the program back then. A couple of those girls transferred to Wenatchee and they wound up winning the state tournament in 2004 so it worked out there,” he said. “I was coaching the travel team. They were trying to get a program at Eastmont going. They started the program up. They posted the position for a coach. I applied for it. I took it on.”

The current Eastmont coach, Christy Binge, was his assistant. He said they were able to build the program “pretty amazingly” in the four years he was there. They had an individual state champion.

In year two, they took third place in state. They won two Big 9 titles. They won a state championship at the end, which Binge has continued. In the first year of the program, there were eight girls. In the second year, there were 20. Now, they have 20 girls every year.

“I would have loved to have stayed longer, but my full-time job took me outside the area. I knew I was leaving it in really good hands with Christy. I stayed in touch. She took a lot of the stuff we got going and put her own spin on it,” Anders said.

Binge has continued a lot of the traditions Anders learned from Jay Young at Wenatchee.

“When we started at Eastmont, we took a lot of the things Wenatchee had done because it is one of the best programs in the state,” he said. “We put our spin on it. It has continued to grow like that. That is something Wenatchee has gotten away from. I want to get that spin back, to get to some traditional things we did in year’s past.”

Of course, now Anders is going head to head against Eastmont, but he said it is cool and something he’s looking forward to. Last week, the Panthers beat the Wildcats 3-1.

It takes time to develop in bowling, he said. He wants to see his team do well early in the season, but really flourish in January.

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New Wenatchee coach Jeremy Anders talks to his bowler Kayla Musgrove during warm ups before taking on Eastmont, a team he helped start, seen in the background on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

“You can get in slumps in bowling where your timing is off. If things are going well in January, that is a good sign, because on Feb. 1 when state rolls around, that’s what you want,” he said.

The last four state championships have come from Wenatchee and Eastmont. When it comes to bowling around the state, the Wenatchee area is talked about because it is a powerhouse, he said.

The Tower Classic is one of the biggest invitationals in the state. Wenatchee or Eastmont has won that the past six years. In the last 11 years, Wenatchee or Eastmont has won the Big 9.

“We have two great programs. One of these two teams was going to win state. It was unfortunate last year Kylah Hankins was injured at the state tournament. It was a freak injury,” Anders said. “When she is on, she is one of the top two or three bowlers in the state right now. She is really good and just a junior. She was Bowler of the Year as a sophomore. That is huge to build the program around.”

Eastmont has lost a core group of seniors that won three state championships, he said. Wenatchee has lost some key seniors as well. Both teams are rebuilding.

Anders is happy to be coaching Wenatchee.

“You always want to coach at your alma mater. I grew up idolizing Jay Young and the Wenatchee program. I’ve watched it since it started. My sister bowled in the program. I’ve had a lot of friends bowl in the program. To take the helm of it is pretty exciting,” Anders said.

Anders wants his bowlers to communicate, so they can make adjustments off one another. He wants them to read their partner in front of them because that is how you adjust. You bowl the same lines, so it is pretty important, he said.

“A lot of coaches don’t do that in high school bowling. That’s definitely more a collegiate style. I bring a higher-end coaching style. Strong communications are really important. Communication is a huge thing with girls,” Anders said.

Every bowler has a unique style. Anders said you make adjustments with the unique style, not try to make them bowl in a certain way. Let them use their unique style, he said.

When it comes to lane conditions, you never know what you’ll get. Anders said they went to the Moses Lake Invite and saw some of the toughest lane conditions he’s ever seen.

“We saw the lowest scores in a long time. It was a tough, tough shot,” he said. “Just really tough back ends. The back really wanted to snap at the back end. It’s a tough thing to control. You can control the front of it, but not when the ball gets down there. Many female bowlers don’t have the speed of the male bowlers so making the adjustments is critical.”

Anders said there still a lot of love when it comes to Eastmont. They practice on the same lanes. He and Binge still bounce ideas off one another.

“We will support each other. Our girls are friends. You walk in that bowling alley for Eastmont and Wenatchee and it is loud. High School bowling is pretty intense,” Anders said. “The state tournament is loud and intense. In the last 11 years, you are fighting for valley, league and state supremacy. It’s a fun rivalry. We care about each other.”

Anders loves the Journey song, Don’t Stop Believing. It became the theme song for Eastmont. Now it will be the theme song for Wenatchee, he said with a chuckle.

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New Wenatchee coach Jeremy Anders works on the shoes of his bowler Jaiden Thompson before taking on Eastmont Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019.

In previous years, Wenatchee and Eastmont have been so strong there was no doubt who would win league. Now, other programs have improved like West Valley and Eisenhower. Anders believes it will be a tight run for the Big 9.

“We have a couple of girls not able to go yet. We won’t be at full capacity until mid to late December. Just build the program up. We have some JV girls showing something already,” Anders said. “We want our program to have depth. Knowing I have the depth to pull from is a big thing. I expect us to be strong after Christmas break. I don’t know if we can win league. I want to win districts and go to state.”

Ian Dunn: 664-7157

dunn@wenatcheeworld.com