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BOWLING: Defending champ Richard back on top (PHOTOS)
The defending Catholic League champion Gabriel Richard boys bowling team picked up where it left off last season. Kneeling are Jeff Wilson (left), Sam Jakubik, Nate Parks, Cody Rich, Aidan Paige and Jesus Quiroz. Standing are Christian O'Callaghan (left), Zach Barr, Jack Jerry, Austin Kraemer, Zack Stempien, Austin Stempien and Coach Bob Stempien.
Members of the Gabriel Richard girls bowling team include assistant Coach Cindy Stempien (left), Amanda Beaudrie, Elizabeth Beaudrie, Kassandra Komosa, Gabrielle Trela, Julie Rutkowski, Emily Elsesser, Mary Trela and Coach Bob Stempien.
Led by senior standout Justin McClain and four underclassmen, they defeated three much larger schools – the University of Detroit Jesuit, Warren DeLaSalle and Novi Catholic Central – to win the Catholic League championship.
A season later, with no seniors on the team, the Pioneers are 10-0 and alone on top of the Catholic League West Division.
Gabriel Richard has defeated every team in the league at least once. The boys have knocked down the most pins (17,123), have the league’s high team game (992 – an average of 198 per bowler) and have the high two-game team series (1928).
Freshman Austin Kraemer is tied for the league’s high average, 198. He also has the high game, 247, and series, 463. While new to the team, Kraemer has extensive experience from competing in state youth tournaments. He won the prestigious Schildroth Invitational Classic in 2010.
He’s far from a one-man gang. Six Pioneers are averaging 167 or better. Junior Zach Barr carries a 179 average and just last week rolled a 222 game. Junior Zack Stempien, who averages 173 in only his second year of organized bowling, has won 17 of his 18 match points and bowled a 422 series last week.
Sophomore Christian O’Callaghan also averages 173 and has won 13 of his 15 head-to-head matches. Freshman Nate Parks is averaging 169. Fellow ninth-grader Austin Stempien (167 average) has won 11 of 13 match points.
The team consists of seven juniors, two sophomores and four freshmen. Providing plenty of depth are juniors Jeff Wilson, Brandon Tepper, Cody Rich, Aidan Paige and Sam Jakubik, sophomore Jack Jerry (157 average) and freshman Jesus Quiroz.
“I think we have a more sound team than last year,” said Coach Bob Stempien. “We’ve picked up probably 60 pins in average over the team we had last year.”
Coach Stempien may deserve some of the credit. He’s a member of the Greater Detroit Bowling Hall of Fame and the Michigan Majors Hall of Fame who spent some time on the Pro Bowlers Association tour.
Stempien started coaching high schoolers last year when son Zack said the team needed a coach. This year, son Austin joined the team as well. Stempien’s Aunt Cindy is assistant coach. She pretty much grew up in her family’s bowling center, West Warren Recreation in East Dearborn.
Zach Stempien said they miss McClain, “who gave us drive throughout the season,” but without him “we have everyone pushing each other along and we’re getting better and better.”
“You look at what everybody else is doing and offer to help them,” he said. “This year, I think our team is actually stronger.”
Barr, who has been bowling since age 5 and is in his third year with the high school team, called last year’s league title “a really big accomplishment.” He said this season’s Pioneers have a lot of promise to repeat as league champions and go even farther.
“We’re a very good team and a very talented team,” he said. “We have the talent to go all the way and win states this year. As long as we make our shots and spares, we’ll be able to perform at our level and go all the way.”
The seven bowlers on the Gabriel Richard girls team include seniors Emily Elsesser, Mary Trela and Elizabeth Beaudrie, sophomores Kassandra Komosa, Amanda Beaudrie and Julie Rutkowski and freshman Gabrielle Trela.
The Pioneers are 4-6 heading into the last week of the regular season.
“We’re doing OK, but we hope to do better,” Elsesser said. “I’d love to win the Catholic League. It all depends on how we do and how strong of a team we are. We have improved a lot. If we keep improving, we stand a chance.”
Despite just learning to bowl a year ago, the left-handed senior leads the team with a 139 average. The Trelas are close behind: Gabrielle is averaging 131 and has won 10.5 match points out of a possible 14. Mary Trela is averaging 130. Mary has been in the state tournament in both her sophomore and junior seasons.
“I try to help keep our enthusiasm up on the team,” Elsesser said. “Usually when we’re more enthusiastic, we do better.”
She credited her coaches for improving her bowling form, where she stands and how she throws the ball.
The Pioneers are proud of their Catholic League championship banner at their home house, Belmar Lanes in Lincoln Park. Coach Bob Stempien said a key to their success is the support of the McClain family, including Fred McClain, Justin’s father and a Hall of Fame bowler who owns Belmar.
Last Updated: 2/1/2013 4:22:42 PM EST