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BOWLING: Kennedy's girls are young - and very good (PHOTO)
The Kennedy bowlers are Rebecca West (front, left), Klayton Williams, Lucas Crider, Timothy Green, Jeremy Bedo and June Bedo; Coach Dan Dutcher (middle, left), Morgan Alexis, Melissa Woloszyk, Anna Hudak, Andrea Claypool, Alyssa Segura and Coach Ernie Segura; Michael Jones (back, left), Cody West, Christopher DeLong, Coleman Kirk, Tyler Heaberlin, Ryan Scully.
Coach Dan Dutcher remembers Katelyn Ball, Ashley Gluba, Samantha Cwik and Jessica Bedo telling the remaining four bowlers – all freshmen – that they were leaving the team in good hands.
“The underclassmen responded ‘We will not let you down,’” Dutcher said.
This season, the girls who returned to the team and the newcomers that joined them have Dutcher’s team poised for more greatness.
The Eagles – four sophomores and three juniors – are 6-0 and the only undefeated squad in the combined Downriver League and Western Wayne Athletic Conference. Most of the matches have been blowouts.
To date, they have the highest team average in the league, 786, and have knocked down nearly 700 more pins than their closest competitor, Belleville.
They have the league’s highest scratch Baker series, 410, and the second highest scratch Baker game, 217. Their league-high 1804 scratch series is one of the best in the state.
Morgan Alexis, a sophomore, has the league’s second best two-game series, 448, and is leading the team with an even 200 average – up 30 pins from a year ago.
Fellow 10th-graders Rebecca West (180 average) and June Bedo (165) have defeated all 10 of their opponents in head-to-head matchups. The team’s fourth sophomore, Alyssa Segura, is 6-for-6 and has a 172 average.
Juniors Andrea Claypool (159 average), Melissa Woloszyk (152) and Anna Hudak (138) give the Eagles more depth than any girls team in the league. Everyone is contributing.
“In the beginning, I thought this might be a slight rebuilding year,” said Dutcher, who is back for his 10th year with the program. “We lost four seniors and the rest of last year’s team were freshmen. So far, the members of returning class have elevated their game to exceed our expectations. The newcomers have blended well with them and have already picked up 25 pins or more from their tryout average.”
If the Eagles win the league title, it would be their third in four years for the girls. Other goals – for both the girls and boys teams – include winning a tournament, placing among the top three teams in regionals to advance to the state finals and winning a state championship in Division 2.
Kennedy is seeking its first team state championship. Last year, they Eagles were fifth in the state finals qualifying round. They have been state runners-up twice and reached the semifinals four times. Kenna Williams – now an assistant coach at Truman – was an individual state champion in Division 1 in 2009.
Dutcher admits past success has put a target on the team’s back, but the bowlers are up to the challenge.
“This year’s sophomores learned the ropes and the expectations of how to be great representatives of the Kennedy Eagles varsity bowling team,” he said. “That really enriched their growth. They gained vast experience in the 2011-12 season, which has helped their game this year.”
Dutcher said the “spirit level from last year has not fallen off and the team enthusiasm has continued to grow,” which is an important factor throughout the year.
Alexis, who has a 4.0 grade point average, confirmed that last year’s experience helped the returning bowlers, that all of the girls have high morale and work to keep it that way, rooting for one another.
“I guess we’ve just kept our heads in the game,” she said. “Next year, we’ll have four juniors and three seniors and the next year after that we’ll have four seniors. Hopefully, we’ll have a strong team for the next few years.”
The girls and boys teams also benefit from having pro bowler Ernie Segura Jr. – Alyssa’s dad – as assistant coach. A full-time member of the Pro Bowlers Association tour since 2011, Segura cashed on six national and regional events last year and trains bowlers nationally. He has 40 certified 300 games and 22 800 series.
Like the Eagles, Segura got an early start in bowling and was a state champion and All-America by 1978. His resume includes top-10 finishes in the MDUSBC Masters tournaments in 1009, 2010 and 2011. In 2011-12, he held a high average of 240.8 for 75 games.
Segura said the girls’ technique has improved “and their scores are showing it now.”
“They also know where Kennedy came from,” he said. “They want to uphold the standard Kennedy has had in the past and want to keep it going. They’re doing whatever they need to do to get to that level to succeed.”
The boys’ team is just as impressive. In a league in which any team can beat any team, Kennedy is right in the heat of the race. Six bowlers are averaging 190 or above, led by a 205 by the Eagles’ only senior, Ryan Scully, who transferred to Kennedy from Dearborn Heights Annapolis.
Third-year team member Christopher DeLong is the only junior on the team. He’s averaging 192 and leads the Eagles in head-to-head wins. He’s also bowled a 279 game and 505 two-game series earlier this season. Both are among the top three scores in the league.
Six of the Kennedy boys were freshmen last year and are back with plenty of seasoning. Cody West is averaging 201. Coleman Kirk, who just returned to the lineup after recovering from a broken finger during football season, bowled a 289 game in last weekend’s Wayne County Tournament.
The other 10th-graders are Jeremy Bedo (196 average), Tyler Heaberlin (191), Klayton Williams (175) and Timothy Green (157).
The Eagles have as much promise as any team in the league. Freshman Michael Jones, who came up through the youth ranks at Skore Lanes, carries a 199 average. Lucas Crider, also a ninth-grader, is averaging 161.
“I’m seeing a lot of resilience,” Coach Segura said. “There’s no giving up. They don’t get down on themselves in meets. They keep plugging and keep working hard to get as much as they can. A lot of these kids are really coming along.”
The Eagles finished first in the state regional tournament a year ago and made it to the state finals, placing 11th. DeLong said this year’s team is doing well despite losing “two of our best bowlers,” seniors Nevin Alexis (Morgan’s brother) and Aaron Toth, to graduation.
DeLong said the Eagles need to continue to improve and win their league matches to prepare for a return to the state finals.
“Last year and the year before, we were pretty dominant,” he said. “This year, we just have to keep putting on the pressure as much as we can and stay on the ball.
“I think we can make it. We are improving and building team chemistry – getting to know each other. I’m sure we can if we try hard.”
Last Updated: 1/25/2013 3:35:13 PM EST