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Flat Rock's Holly McQuithey


BOWLING: Flat Rock starts season strong (PHOTOS)

Last year's girls D3 state champs dubbed

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After the Flat Rock High School varsity bowling team won the Division 3 girls state championship last season, the Rams became the team to beat.

Coach Kristi Hill said her team – fair or not – has a target on its back.

“I was talking to a parent, who was a tournament talking to another parent from another team who heard we were from Flat Rock and he knew who we were,” Hill said. “It’s nice to have (a state championship), but it’ll probably be a curse all year. Everybody is going to be gunning for us. Everybody is out to beat Flat Rock.”

The state championship was the first in bowling at Flat Rock High and only the fourth in school history in any sport.

However, neither the girls nor boys teams are the teams of a year ago. Hill’s team graduated five senior bowlers from last season’s state title team. And the boys, who are coached by her father and Athletic Director Eric Painter, also lost talent and has just three bowlers with much experience at the high school level.

The girls’ team opened the season 2-1, with wins over Riverview and Milan Red and a loss to Huron. The boys are 1-2 against the same teams with the win coming against Riverview.

Of the nine bowlers on the girls’ team, two are strong returnees from last year’s team: senior Lindsay Risden and junior Holly McQuithey. Both were key factors in the state championship run and have had some hot spots early in the season.

Risden has bowled a 221 game and 409 series (for two games), both good for second best in the Huron League. McQuithey has a 204 game and 390 series. Both are averaging 172 a game.

Hill said she needs the duo to provide leadership and set the example for the rest of the team.

“I’m looking forward to how they do this year,” the coach said. “This is Lindsay’s last year. I hope she goes out with a bang. Holly has this year and next year. Hopefully, we can get a lot out of her as well.”

Among the seven other bowlers on the team, only junior Lindsay Quednau has varsity experience. Some of the six newcomers have some junior bowling talent, but had not competed at the high school level until this year.

The other senior on the team is Miranda Bodary, who played basketball at Flat Rock prior to this season. The third junior is Aleah Scibilia.

The rest are underclassmen: sophomores Elysia Dixon and Kaylee Mucha and freshmen Jordan Bonner and Kayla Jackson.

Scibilia, Bonner and Jackson have bowled competitively in junior programs. Bonner, at 153, has the third-highest average on the team. Jackson (146) and Scibilia (144) round out the top five.

As a team, the Rams are holding their own. They lead the league in total pins with 4,497 and average, 149. Carleton Airport, which is 3-0, is second at 4,391 and 146.

The boys’ team is showing promise. The squad has rolled the league’s third best Baker game series, 391, and should improve as the season moves on.

Junior Brett Zurawski, who qualified for the state tournament a year ago, is the only returnee with state competition under his belt. He is averaging 187, one pin less than sophomore Aaron Wojtylko. Senior Joe Korany, at 177, has the third-highest average on the team.

Having seven bowlers doesn’t give Coach Painter much depth, but there is some definite competition among the remaining four to see who fills out the remaining spots on the score sheet. Rounding out the team are sophomore Tyler Jackson (160 average), freshman Luke Wooten (153), senior Cody Byrne (146) and junior Trevor Davis (140). Jackson also plays basketball so there will be some games in which there are only six available bowlers.

“For the first time in my coaching career, I don’t have a big gun,” Painter said. “All of the kids have some skills. What has to work for me is I need all of my kids to fill frames (roll spares and strikes). We can’t have opens. Get me all the pins you can get.”

So far, the marks haven’t come as frequently as Painter hoped, but…

“There has been a lot of fun and a lot of learning,” he said. “I’ve had to pull out some coaching drills that I haven’t had to use in the past to get the kids better at the game.”

The team’s philosophy is not to worry much about league play, but concentrate on improving and being ready when it counts most: at tournament time at the end of February.

Painter was on hand when the girls’ team won the state championship at the end of last season and remembers how “amazing” the experience was.

Hill said she is “still feeling the glow.”

“As a coach, there is no greater joy than to say you coached and worked with a state championship team,” she said. “Afterward, people come up to you and say ‘Way to go, coach.’ I say ‘thank you,’ but really the girls did it. I was hoping I had them prepared enough to have them do it. They were ready. They were ready to see tough competition and were ready to beat competition. We faced Airport twice and had a tie and a close loss. You can’t get any better experience than that so you can do well in a tournament situation.”

The state championship “is still fresh in my head,” Hill added. “It’s pretty awesome.”

Last Updated: 12/14/2012 3:24:14 PM EST