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The Gabriel Richard bowling team - Austin Kraemer (left), Jack Jerry, Zack Stempien, Zach Barr, Christian O'Callaghan, Austin Stempien


BOWLING: Slew of local bowlers shine at regionals, make state-final cut (PHOTO)

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How good is the high school bowling this year in the Downriver area? Half of the 12 high schools with bowling programs and 18 singles bowlers earned regional tournament glory and qualified to compete in this weekend’s state tournament.

Kennedy’s boys and girls teams qualified along with the boys from Gabriel Richard, Truman, Roosevelt and Huron and the girls from Flat Rock. The Kennedy and Gabriel Richard boys and the Flat Rock girls won regional championships.

The 18 singles qualifiers Downriver spanned all four divisions. They included 11 boys and seven girls, including Flat Rock senior Lindsay Risden, who was a regional champion in Division 3.

The top three boys and girls teams at each regional tournament earned a spot in the state finals. The top 10 boys and girls singles bowlers also qualified.

The state finals in the bowling team competition took place Friday across the state. The singles finals took place on Saturday. A complete round-up of the state finals results will follow in this week’s News-Herald.

Division 1

The Roosevelt boys team just keeps on rolling. After earning the Downriver League championship, the Bears finished second in the Division 1 regional tournament at Woodhaven Lanes to qualify for the state finals.

Coach George Purdu’s lineup came out firing during the six Baker games and led the 15-team field at that point. The Bears kept it going in the three regular games for a 3,816 total.

Roseville took first in the regional with 3975. Westland John Glenn edged Warren Mott for the third spot by six pins. Woodhaven was sixth with 3625 pins and Anderson placed eighth with 3577.

“We really focused on the Baker games,” Purdu said. “I knew the Baker games were going to make or break us.”

Freshman Cory Coffee and seniors Justin Hamilton and Tony Zaddach had a strike or spare in every frame they bowled during the Baker games, which was key to the Bears’ success.

“The Bakers set the tone,” Purdu said. “They’re the first ting you bowl. They lifted the spirit of everyone on the team. You have the confidence going into the regular matches.”

Purdu said the tough competition Roosevelt faced in the Downriver League – especially toward the end of the regular season – helped prepare the team for post-season play. Being able to defeat Truman and Kennedy in the last couple matches of league play made the Beas stronger.

He also took his team to practice at Woodhaven Lanes seven times to get the bowlers used to the conditions.

“I knew going in we had a really good chance to make the top three,” Purdu said. “I think this area is a pretty big area for bowling. I told the kids I’d rather see tougher competition during the league season to prepare us for the future.”

Ryan Merchak of Anderson was the only area qualifier in the Division 1 boys singles tournament at Woodhaven. The junior rallied to tie senior Michael Lucas of Woodhaven for the 10th and final spot and won a one-game playoff, 213-185.

Coffee opened with three strong games (225, 205, 212) but wound up in 15th place – best among Roosevelt bowlers. He finished best among the seven freshmen bowlers in the singles tournament.

In Division 1 girls singles, Anderson senior Paige Podlaszuk and Woodhaven junior Serena Belanger qualified for the state finals. Podlaszuk finished fourth with 1,073 pins, while Belanger was seventh with 1,040.

In the team competition, Anderson, Roosevelt and Woodhaven finished seventh, 10th and 13th, respectively.

Division 2

Kennedy, Truman and Huron finished 1-2-3 in the Division 2 boys team regional at Taylor Lanes, while Kennedy took second in the girls tournament.

The boys competition couldn’t have been much closer. Huron was leading the 13-team field heading into the last regular game when Kennedy (976) and Truman (989) soared and the Chiefs had their lowest game (867). The Eagles wound up with 3,967 pins – 15 more than the Cougars and 25 more than Huron.

Tecumseh was a distant fourth (3,851). Among Downriver teams, Trenton was sixth (3,713), Riverview was eighth (3,621) and Romulus was 12th (3,349).

Kennedy’s score was the third best among all six Division 2 regionals. Coach Dan Dutcher said the win wasn’t a surprise since the Eagles “really seemed to gel around two-thirds of the way through the season.” He credited the lineups, the leadership of the upperclassmen and the team’s strength of schedule toward the end of the season.

“We were in a lot of must-win pressure situations that really helped us learn what pressure is all about,” Dutcher said.

The Eagles started in the middle of the pack and dropped to 10th before rallying. Dutcher said all eight bowlers contributed: Jeremy Bedo, Christopher DeLong, Tyler Heaberlin, Mike Jones, Coleman Kirk, Ryan Scully, Cody West and Klayton Williams. Ernie Segura is the boys coach.

Truman Coach Steve Vernier used all six bowlers in the boys lineup: Zack Lewis, Rhys Hamilton, Will Ellis, David Hamlein, James Coffman and Ryan Vernier, with Hamilton and Ellis alternating in the second spot.

The Cougars were among the top five teams most of the day. Coach Vernier said he emphasized the importance of making spares. At one point when the team missed a couple spares, Vernier and his son Ryan told the bowlers to remain positive and pick each other up. It worked.

“You have to make your spares,” the coach said. “The strikes will come.”

Huron Coach Larry Collins used eight bowlers throughout the day: Tony Leo, Josh Coffee, Anthony Munoz and Paul White are the mainstays. Tyler Scicluna and Tyler Bennett split the third spot. And Chris Ross and Brendon White pitched in as well.

Huron had the high Baker game (255) and regular game (1007) of the tournament. While there was little doubt the Chiefs were going to finish among the top three in the regional, Collins said his bowlers felt disappointed they didn’t win the tournament outright, especially after winning the Huron League championship.

In the boys singles competition the next day, Lewis (1188) finished third to lead four Downriver qualifiers. Leo, a sophomore, was seventh.(1151), David Owens of Trenton placed eighth (1,149) and Ryan Vernier took ninth (1139). Chase Von Drak of Romulus finished 11th (1139), just five pins out of the 10th qualifying spot. Justin Ruloff was Riverview’s top finisher in 16th place (1098).

In the girls team tournament, Kennedy finished a distant second to Tecumseh, (3711 to 3491 total pins), but the Eagles were nearly 200 pins ahead of third-place Carleton Airport. All three teams qualified for the state finals.

Trenton was eighth (2820), Huron ninth (2782), Romulus 10th (2722), Truman 12th (2598) and Riverview 13th (2592).

Seven Kennedy girls – the same girls who led the Eagles to the undefeated Downriver League title – contributed to the team’s regional success: Morgan Alexis, June Bedo, Andrea Claypool, Anna Hudak, Alyssa Segura, Rebecca West and Melissa Woloszyk.

Alexis finished second overall in the team competition with a three-game series of 586. West and Claypool also finished in Friday’s top 10.

“The girls are so energetic, so pumped up and so motivated with their chants and their cheers,” Dutcher said. “You either love us or hate us.”

The showing marked the third time that Kennedy sent both its boys and girls teams to the state finals.

Three Kennedy girls were the lone Downriver qualifiers in the Division 2 singles regional tournament at Taylor Lanes. Alexis (1076), Claypool (1067) and Woloszyk (1045) finished fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively.

Top finishers among other area schools were Felicia Christopher of Trenton, 12th place (1000 total pins); Madison Simmers of Huron, 13th (997), Krystal Howard of Truman, 22nd (954); Sam Dellapella of Riverview, 29th (940); and Rachel Leonard of Romulus, 39th (851).

Dutcher thanked members of his support staff for helping operate a successful regional at Taylor Lanes, including his wife Leigh Dutcher, Annette and Jack DeLong, Marsha West, Rosanne Woloszyk, Jody Bedo, Nevin Alexis, Anna Hudak, Tim Green and Cody West

Division 3

The defending Division 3 girls state champions from Flat Rock picked up where they left off in last year’s state tournament by handily winning the regional tournament at Flat Rock Lanes.

The Rams led from wire to wire to claim their fifth straight regional title. Their 3619 total pin count score outdistanced second-place Jackson Lumen Christi (3360). Third place went to Hanover-Horton (3208). All three teams qualified for the state finals.

Flat Rock had the top Baker game, 211, and put an exclamation point on the regional title with a 907 regular game – the only 900 for a girls team in the tournament.

“It’s pretty awesome,” said Coach Kristi Hill. “They deserve to win this – definitely.”

Hill’s regional lineup included senior Lindsay Risden and junior Holly McQuithey – who helped lead the Rams to the state title a year ago – along with junior Lindsay Quednau and freshman Kayla Jackson. Sharing time in the fifth spot were ninth-grader Jordan Bonner, senior Miranda Bodary and junior Aleah Scibilia.

The next day, Risden became the Division 3 singles regional champion. Her scores were unparalleled: 220, 235, 223, 254, 207 and 186 for a 1325 total – an average of 221 for the day.

McQuithey, who finished eighth with 995, also qualified for the state singles finals. Quednau (948) finished 11th, just 17 pins out of the 10th qualifying spot.

Hill said Risden started using a new ball the week of the tournament. Brian Thompson, the pro in the pro shop at Flat Rock Lanes, tweaked the ball in time for her to use it in the tournament.

“Lindsay won it in stellar fashion,” Hill said. “She did not even have to bowl the last game and she would have won it. She was on auto pilot. She crushed it. She was the high qualifier for the day, even including the boys. It was impressive.”

McQuithey needed a score in the 160s or 170s to finish in the top 10 and rolled a 178 in the sixth and final game.

Risden and McQuithey qualified for the state singles finals for the second straight year.

The Flat Rock boys finished seventh in the team regional and did not qualify for states, but junior Brett Zurawski and sophomore Aaron Wojtylko finished third and seventh, respectively, in the singles tournament. Zurawski’s total pin count of 1246 over the six games was just 14 less than leader Cory Hunt of Onsted. Wojtylko shot 1178 on the day.

Livonia Clarenceville, Jackson Lumen Christi and Brooklyn Columbia Central finished 1-2-3 in the boys team regional in Flat Rock.

Cabrini hosted the Division 3 tournament at Cherry Hill Lanes. Neither the Monarchs boys or girls teams qualified for states, but senior Mike Kuschel earned the right to represent his school in the singles tournament after placing seventh with an 1100 series for six games.

Sophomore Alex Dickinson finished 14th on the girls’ side, just 14 pins out of the final qualifying spot.

Division 4

Gabriel Richard not only qualified to bowl in the Division 4 boys state finals, the Pioneers won the regional championship at Airport Lanes.

Trailing by 126 pins with one regular game to go, Richard bowled 955 to finish with 3764 total pins and leap past host team East Jackson (3752) and Clinton (3690) to capture the regional title.

While it is the second straight year the Pioneers qualified to bowl in the state finals, the regional championship is believed to be the first in school history. Earlier this year, Gabriel Richard also won the Catholic League West Division championship.

The Pioneers – perhaps the youngest team in the tournament – were in first place after the six Baker games, which included the region’s best 232 in game four. But they slipped to third when East Jackson and Clinton came out hot to start the regular games, forcing GR to finish strong to win it outright. Barr struck out in the 10th frame to seal the championship.

The Pioneers’ total pin count was fourth best among all Division 4 teams statewide. Bowlers contributing were juniors Zack Stempien and Zach Barr, sophomores Christian O’Callaghan and Jack Jerry and freshmen Austin Kraemer and Austin Stempien.

“It went pretty good,” said Coach Bob Stempien. “You want to do the best you can and come out as high as you can. I’m sure in their hearts they wanted to win it. Qualifying was on their mind, but it was exciting to win.”

It was Coach Stempien’s idea to have members of the Gabriel Richard boys and girls teams travel twice to Airport Lanes for practice to get used to the house conditions prior to the regional tournament.

Three Pioneers also bowled well enough in the regional singles tournament to qualify for the state finals. Barr finished fifth with 1189 pins, O’Callaghan was eighth (1170) and Jerry placed 10th (1154). Jerry bowled 218 and 223 in his last two games to snag the final spot. He and Barr qualified for the second straight year. This year, Zack Stempien and Kraemer also finished in the top 20.

Gabriel Richard’s girls team finished 12th in the regional. Senior Mary Trela was the top Pioneer in the singles tournament, placing 24th.

Last Updated: 3/1/2013 2:24:50 PM EST