PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – The Benson Polytechnic High School Girls Bowling Team is heading to the state championship. It’s the first time the team has made it there in the school’s history. 

Team Coach Jacob Patterson brought the club sport back to the school in 2021-2022 after more than a decade. In 2022, his co-ed and girls teams competed in the district tournament, but neither qualified for state. This year, the girls are heading there. 

“I could not be prouder or more excited about the awesome performance and opportunity that our girls have accomplished,” he said. 

Patterson had more than 60 kids of all genders sign up for the sport for the 2022-2023 season. A lot of the boys, he said, were new to the team. 

The girls, however, had several returning veterans; ones who competed in the district tournament last season. 

That experience paid off this year. Patterson said they put in hours of practice — and there was another trick to their success. 

“The secret sauce, the little special thing that we did this year was we came up with our own cheers and our chants,” Patterson said. 

He said the team learned the hard way in 2022 when they went to the district tournament and heard all the other teams hooting, hollering and cheering. Benson hadn’t practiced any chants. 

So, Patterson came up with a few. 

“Just simple things like when the bowler bowls a spare or a strike, they yell out something like ‘Let’s – go!’ and the team will respond with ‘Ben-son!’” he said. 

That’s what it took to get the team fired up, and it helped propel them to the state championship — an environment where they’ll really need to bring the energy. 

“The high school bowling tournaments are in my opinion the most electric, most fun, highest energy events in all of bowling from amateur to professional,” Patterson said. 

He would know. The coach has been a bowler for years. 

He grew up in Portland’s Lents Neighborhood and was supposed to go to Marshall High School, but a friend convinced him to go to Benson Polytechnic High School instead to join the bowling team. During his freshman year, the team took third place in the district tournament and competed in the state championship. 

That was the last time Benson had a team in the state championship before Patterson took over as coach. Shortly after he graduated from high school in 2006, the team fizzled out. 

When he interviewed for the job of KBPS radio broadcast instructor at Benson Polytechnic High School, he asked the principal if he could bring back bowling to the school and serve as the coach. The principal supported the idea. 

He’s since taken the program and run with it. The team practices at the KingPins on Southeast 92nd Avenue in Portland. 

The top three teams from each school district qualify for the state championship. Since Portland is such a large school district, four teams from the district are allowed in. Patterson said the Benson girls team placed fourth in the district. 

The state championship will take place on February 25 and 26 at Lava Lanes in Medford. Anyone who’d like to support the team is invited to attend. 

“Nothing helps out the Bowling Tournament like a big loud crowd,” Patterson said.