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BOWLING: Kennedy boys and girls are unbeaten at the break (PHOTO)

Members of the undefeated Kennedy boys' bowling team include Coach Dan Dutcher (left), Mike Jones, Tyler Heaberlin, Lucas Crider, Chris DeLong, Klayton Williams, Tyler Maffesoli, Jacob Brophy, Coleman Kirk, Jeremy Bedo, Cody West and Coach Annette DeLong. Photo by Dave Gorgon

Members of the undefeated Kennedy girls' bowling team include Coach Annette DeLong (left), Anna Hudak, Becca West, Melissa Woloszyk, Kylie Reno, June Bedo, Alyssa Segura, Morgan Alexis, Andrea Claypool and Coach Dan Dutcher. Kayla Reno was not present for the photo. Photo by Dave Gorgon

Kennedy bowler Chris DeLong carries a 193 average this season for the Eagles. Overall, seven members of the squad have an average of 190 or higher, with Coleman Kirk leading the way at 215. Photo by Dave Gorgon

With a 192, Kennedy's Morgan Alexis carries the highest average of any female in the Downriver League and also has the second-highest two-game series at 422. Photo by Dave Gorgon

For the first time in the proud varsity bowling history at Kennedy High School, both the boys and girls teams are undefeated at the Christmas holiday break in the season.

Both teams have victories over Livonia Clarenceville, Wyandotte, Romulus and city rival Truman in the combined 12-team Downriver League and Western Wayne Athletic Conference.

“This is the first time both teams have started 4-0,” said longtime Coach Dan Dutcher. “They want to contribute to the history and heritage of Taylor Kennedy.”

Expectations were high coming into the season. The girls finished fifth in last season’s Division 2 state tournament and had seven bowlers returners. The boys have made it to the state finals the last three years, including last year’s regional championship team.

“We always want them to strive to be better than the year before – to not let their former teammates down,” said Annette DeLong, who has been elevated from associate coach to boys head coach. “They want to keep that roll going.”

Dutcher said a run for the state championship for the girls team “is definitely within our grasp. Last year, the expectation was more about making the finals. This year, they have more of an attitude of winning the state championship. The core has been together now for three years, so it’s within the realm of possibilities.”

The Kennedy girls team has made the state finals seven years in a row. The Eagles have two fifth-place finishes in the state tournament, have made four final-four appearances and have been runners-up twice. They also have won five Downriver League championships outright and shared a conference title one year. The Eagles were undefeated in league matches last season.

“The run has been so fantastic here at Taylor Kennedy,” Dutcher said. “It started with a great coach (Mike Sarandrea) we had in the beginning of our program and has been built upon every year.”

The entire squad has contributed this year. Junior Morgan Alexis has the highest average (192) among Downriver League teams and has the second highest two-game series (422) in the conference.

Junior Becca West (174 average, 232 high game) and seniors Andrea Claypool (174) and Melissa Woloszyk (173) join Alexis for one of the toughest foursomes in the state.

Senior Anna Hudak (153) and juniors Alyssa Segura (161) and June Bedo (149) “have performed very well against their opponents,” Dutcher said. Anna is the third Hudak sister to bowl for Kennedy. Amanda Hudak bowled one year and sister Sasha bowled four years for the Eagles.

Sophomore twins Kylie and Kayla Reno are newcomers to the team and allow Dutcher to carry nine bowlers this year.

“We always do our best,” said Alexis, who is in her third year on varsity. “We keep our spirits high and always want to win. We practice three days a week and take practice seriously, but we also have fun… If we do our best, we’re going to win.”

Winning is the name of the game for the boys, as well.

“It is a big thing to finish first,” Coach DeLong said. “They like the trophies in the case. That’s what they strive for.”

Coach Dutcher said confidence is high.

“This is probably our most talented team,” Dutcher said. “From bowler one to bowler 10, these are the highest averages in our 11 years.”

Three boys have averages over 200: junior Coleman Kirk (215), junior Jeremy Bedo (212) and second-year sophomore Mike Jones (208).

Competition for the starting five positions is fierce as four of their teammates are knocking at the door with averages over 190: seniors Chris DeLong (193) and Klayton Williams (193), junior Cody West (191) and freshman Jacob Brophy (196).

Rounding out the 10-bowler team are juniors Tyler Heiberlin (174) and Tyler Maffesoli (174) and sophomore Lucas Crider (152).

The team average is a league-best 968. DeLong is tied for the league’s high game (268), one pin more than Kirk’s best game of the season (268). The two have a friendly competition and “lead the way with attitude,” Dutcher said.

“I think Kennedy can beat every other school,” Jones said. “It’s just the coaching and how committed we are and we practice so much. Every day at practice, you’ll see Dan and Annette working with people. If someone is struggling, they work with them and help them get better.

“I think this is going to be our best year yet. When I came here and started bowling for the team, I saw that everyone around me wanted to do so good. You feed off that. When you’re around everybody that bowls 200, you’re going to start doing that.

“I don’t see a team out there that can beat us.”

Last Updated: 12/30/2013 12:04:22 PM EST

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