Prep bowling preview: Defending state champ Pennfield girls, others, seek solid seasons

Prep bowling preview: Defending state champ Pennfield girls, others, seek solid seasons

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Prep bowling preview: Defending state champ Pennfield girls, others, seek solid seasons

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With the Pennfield High girls’ team winning a state MHSAA championship last year, the Southwest Eight Bowling Conference is once again considered to be a hotbed for prep bowling in Michigan this season.

Yet the 2013-14 campaign is sort of a bitter-sweet one for the Southwest Eight, which became the first high school league in the area in 1999.

That’s when Sue Hutchings of Marshall Lanes, Don Labrecque then of Nottke’s Bowl and Kevin Leiter then of M-66 Bowl, along with other bowling alleys, created the Southwest Eight that was made up of boys’ and girls’ teams from Battle Creek Central, Harper Creek, Lakeview, Pennfield, Marshall, Coldwater, an Albion-Homer co-op and Jonesville — and which and competed in the postseason as club teams under the umbrella of the Bowling Centers Association of Michigan.

Then, the MHSAA came onto the scene for the 2005-06 season. And since that time, high school bowling has increased in numbers of participants every year since. And again this season, M-66 Bowl in Battle Creek will host both regional and finals tournaments.

After this season, the Southwest Eight will cease to exist. That’s because Pennfield, Marshall and Coldwater (along with former SW8 member Harper Creek) will join the new Interstate Eight Conference, and high school bowling will be part of the new league’s agenda.

“Actually, I don’t look at it as this being a bitter-sweet situation for us and our league,” said Sue Hutchings, co-proprietor of Marshall Lanes and still director of Marshall High bowling. “When we got prep bowling started, it was our goal to make bowling more of a mainstream high school sport. And next year, it will be for us, as all of the teams in the new (Interstate Eight) league will have bowling.

“So, it’s kind of like our dreams coming true. And all I’m hoping aside from that, is that schools in our league now like Battle Creek Central and Lakeview will be able to find a way to continue offering high school bowling, too, once our league disbands.”

Hoping for one more dream-like season in the SW8’s swansong campaign, of course, is Pennfield girls’ coach Mike Roach.

After guiding the Panthers to a state team title last March, Roach said he’s still hearing about Pennfield’s bowling success nearly a year later.

“I changed barbers recently, and even my new barber was asking all about our girls’ team and about high school bowling in general. And that’s a great thing,” Roach said.

“After winning the state title last year, two years after finishing state runner-up, now our expectations are higher and we’re going to try to maintain our position as one of the top teams in the state. But in the even bigger picture, I think the Southwest Eight will be missed after this season — we’ve had state team champs, individual state champs and even a state Miss Bowler come out of our league — but we’re also looking forward to being in the Interstate next season where all of the high school teams in the league will bowl one another. It’ll be a great thing.”

Following is a closer look at all of the local girls’ and boys’ bowling programs for this season:

Battle Creek Central

Coach: Connie Prescott (2nd year; assistant Joseph Salerno 1st year).

MHSAA: Division 1.

Last year: Low in pack Southwest Eight, 13th D-1 regionals, no individual state qualifiers.

Top returners: Samantha Prescott (Sr., captain), Shelbie Miller (Sr.).

Top newcomers/others: Sylvia Messenger (Jr.), Chasity Moore (Jr.), Sky Messenger (Jr.).

Outlook: “We’re ecstatic that BCC is able to participate in the 2013-14 season,” coach Prescott said. “Originally, we had been cut as a sport. But the kids were extremely dedicated and persistent, and the school is bowling again.This is not only a great opportunity for the kids to make new friendships, but to build their skills alongside the rest of the bowling community…. We plan on participating in regionals and continuing on bowling even after the season has ended. We want to thank everyone who supported us having a team this year. We know it will be a great year.”

Lakeview

Coach: Darrel Allred II (2nd year).

MHSAA: Division 1.

Last year: Middle of pack Southwest Eight, 8th D-1 regionals, no individual state qualifiers.

Top bowlers: Kassidi Allred (Sr., 4-year varsity), Danny Anthony (So.), Nicole Bradshaw (Fr.), Jaden Brown (So.), Rebekah Ehart (Fr.).

Outlook: “We have only one returing senior this year, Kassidi Allred, but we have younger bowlers to help build a stronger team in the next few years,” coach Allred said. “I think we have a couple girls that can do well at regionals this season.”

Pennfield

Coach: Mike Roach (11th year).

MHSAA: Division 3.

Last year: First in Southwest Eight. 1st D-3 regionals, 1st D-3 state finals as team (went into state meet ranked No. 1), two individual state qualifiers (now-graduated Loretta Hinds lost in the quarterfinals, and now-junior Kadee Bechman finished 44th).

Top returners: Kira Tyler (Sr., captain), Taylor Elwell (Sr.), Taylor England (Sr.), Kadee Bechman (Jr.).

Top newcomer: Joni Wirtz (Fr.).

Outlook: “With four returning starters from last year’s state championship team, I’m looking forward to an exciting year,” coach Roach said. “The girls are really putting in an effort to improve their scores from last year.”

Coldwater

Coach: Pat Lewis (1st year); Sandra Jo Reichhart, former coach and pro bowler and co-coach with Sue Herman when Coldwater’s girls won three straight MHSAA titles in 2005-06-07, is in her 11th year and is now program supervisor/secretary)

MHSAA: Division 2.

Last year: 7th Southwest Eight, 5th D-2 regionals, two individual state qualifiers (now-graduated Bianca Porter was 42nd at state and now-senior Dana Bailey finished 43rd).

Top returners: Dana Bailey (Sr.), Haylee Harmon (Sr.), Abbi Newsbaum (Sr.), Kira Mobley (So.).

Top newcomers: Tricia Nelly (Jr.), Cassidy Wolff (Fr.).

Outlook: “We are hoping to return to the competitive team that we have been known for in the past few years,” said Sandra Jo Reichhart, program supervisor. “It is our hope to get to state competition both as a team and individuals.”

Galesburg-Augusta

Coach: David Wayne (2nd year; assistant Doug Eckelbecker).

MHSAA: Division 4.

Last year: 5th SW Michigan White Division, 11th D-4 regionals, no individual state qualifiers.

Top returners: Brianna Buller (Sr.), Camaro Cashwell (Sr.), Rachel Forrest (So.), Theresa Gower (Jr.), Emily Hickman (Sr.), Paige Little (Jr.), Paige Parsons (Sr.), Allison Thomas (Sr.).

Top newcomers: Avery Landers (Fr.), Kali Pepke (So.).

Outlook: “My expectations for this year’s team would be to crack the top 10 and possibly make the top five for regionals,” coach Wayne said. “As for individuals at regionals, we have the potential to have everyone on the team make the top 30, and even a few in the top 15.”

Gull Lake

Coach: Hilary Knight (2nd year; LaMarr Miller is program coordinator).

MHSAA: Division 2.

Last year: 4th SW Michigan Red Division, 6th D-2 regionals, one individual state qualifier (now-senior Sammi Knight was a regional champ and lost in the quarterfinals at state).

Top bowlers: Sammi Knight (Sr.), Paige Jackson (Sr.), Susie Howson (Sr.), Ellie Harnden (Sr.), Cordelia Fenwick (Jr.), Ellen Soule (Jr.), Kasey Eckelbecker (Jr.), Ally McNees (Sr.).

Outlook: “We have seven bowlers returning this year, with four of them being seniors, and we’re fired up to move up in the standings of our league this season,” coach Knight said. “Sammi continues to be a consistent performer in the anchor position, carrying a 207 average, and in the first weeks of our season our team totals have increased each week. If the girls can keep this trend going, they will be well-positioned for regional competition.”

Marshall

Coach: Jody Ulmer (6th year; Sue Hutchings is Marshall program director).

MHSAA: Division 3.

Last year: Middle of pack Southwest Eight, 3rd D-3 regionals, 17th D-3 state finals, two individual state qualifiers (now-graduated Rachel Poe finished 22nd, and now-junior Emily Rupp finished 53rd).

Top returners: Emily Rupp (Jr., co-captain), Taylor Shippell (Sr.), Houston Jones (Jr., co-captain), Isabel Barroso (Sr.), Kaitlyn Matarazoo (Jr.).

Top newcomers: Autumn Hazel (So.), Sara Parks (Fr.).

Outlook: “With the nucleus of last year’s team still in place, we should contend this year in the conference,” said Sue Hutchings, program director. “Our new players are working hard and have the drive to win.”

Battle Creek Central

Coach: Connie Prescott (2nd year; assistant Joseph Salerno 1st year).

MHSAA: Division 1.

Last year: Low in pack Southwest Eight, 8th D-1 regionals, no individual state qualifiers.

Top returners: Mitchell Eakins (Jr., captain), Kaegen Crisher (Sr.).

Top newcomers/others: Jaelin Mclane (So.), Jordan Sweers (Sr.), Joey Gildea (Jr.), Cody Messenger (Fr.), Alec Walker (Sr.), TaJuan Posey (Jr.).

Outlook: “As is the case with the girls’ team, We’re just happy to be bowing this season after originally we had been cut as a sport,” coach Prescott said. “Although we’re not a member of the Southwest Eight or any league this season, we’re planning on picking up a lot of non-league matches against local schoolsand teams out of the Kalamazoo area and at invitationals… and we plan on competing in the MHSAA tournament.”

Lakeview

Coach: Darrel Allred II (2nd year).

MHSAA: Division 1.

Last year: Middle of pack Southwest Eight, 14th D-1 regionals, no individual state qualifiers.

Top bowlers: Matt Garrett (Jr.), Troy Rothwell (Jr.), Sam Ellinger (Jr.), Logan Stallings (Fr.), Seth Castelein (Jr.), Jake Ramirez (So.).

Outlook: “We have three returning bowlers from last season, along with some new talent,” coach Allred said. “I think these boys will be able to do well this year in our division. We also have a few young men that could do well at regionals as well.”

Pennfield

Coach: Ramona Elwell (3rd year).

MHSAA: Division 3.

Last year: Middle of pack Southwest Eight, 5th D-3 regionals, one individual state qualifier (now-senior Tyler Kipp finished 38th).

Top returners: Tyler Kipp (Sr., captain, 3rd year varsity), Schuyler Henderson (Sr.), Cody Shepard (Sr.).

Top newcomers: Corie Gardiner (Jr.),. Bailey Neal (Fr.).

Outlook: “We have a very inexperienced team,” coach Elwell said. “We’re looking for growth this year, and we’re hopeful for some pleasant surprises at regionals and at the state meet.”

Coldwater

Coach: Frank DeMond (1st year; Sandra Jo Reichhart, former coach and pro bowler, is in her 11th year and is now program supervisor/secretary)

MHSAA: Division 2.

Last year: 1st Southwest Eight, 5th D-2 regionals, two individual state qualifiers (now-senior Austen Reichhart tied for 19th at state, and now-graduated Justin Wells finished 52nd).

Top returners: Austen Reichhart (Sr.), Brandon Fry (Sr.), Buddy Bailey (Jr.).

Top newcomers: Darrien Bradley (Sr.), James Scherer (Sr.), Travis Reimer (Jr.).

Outlook: “We hope to continue to be competitive in league play and be able to return to state competition both as a team and individuals and place in the top 10,” said Sandra Jo Reichhart, program supervisor.

Galesburg-Augusta

Coach: David Wayne (2nd year; assistant Doug Eckelbecker).

MHSAA: Division 4.

Last year: 7th SW Michigan White Division, 12th D-4 regionals, one individual state qualifier (now-junior Dylan Whitney, who finished 23rd).

Top returners: Dylan Whitney (Jr.), Dan Elliot (So.), Jon Colvin (So.), Joshua Wayne (Jr.).

Top newcomer: Gunnar Clark (So.).

Outlook: “Since each of the returning bowlers has improved their game, and with the addition of Gunnar, there shouldn’t be any reason that we can’t be in the top five as a team in regionals,” coach Wayne said. “As for individuals at regionals, we have the potential to have the entire team qualify in the top 20 or even the top 10.”

Gull Lake

Coach: LaMarr Miller (7th year).

MHSAA: Division 2.

Last year: 1st in SW Michigan Red Division, 3rd D-2 regionals, 16th D-2 state finals as team, two individual state qualifiers (now-senior Jared Edgertoin lost in quarterfinals, and now-senior Collin Rickey lost in Round of 16).

Top bowlers: Jared Edgerton (Sr.), Collin Rickey (Sr.), Michael Crawford (Sr.), Kevin Jung (Jr.), Ed Fenwick (Jr.), Alex Hale (So.), Ryan Rutz (Fr.).

Outlook:“Our seniors have never lost a high school match — Rickey is currently carrying an average of over 230, Edgerton 202-plus and Crawford 185-plus — and the seniors will work very hard to avoid a high school career loss,” coach Miller said. “We have been blessed with good bowlers who are good sportsmen who give it their all … and I believe both Edgerton and Rickey will be very competitive in regionals and that our team can do well at regionals with a lot of hard work and improving their spare conversions.”

Marshall

Coach: Bob Longrey (11th year ).

MHSAA: Division 3.

Last year: 3rd D-3 regionals, 13th D-3 state finals as team, two individual state qualifiers (now-graduated Chris Morgan was regional champ and lost in quarterfinal round at state, and now-senior Zak VanArman tied for 22nd).

Top returners: Zak VanArman (Sr., co-captain), Mick Schaum (So., co-captain), Bryar Peters (Jr., co-captain), Eric Silvers (So.), Kody Metzger (Jr.).

Top newcomers: Brady Brisson (Fr.), Grey Gillett (Fr.), Kyle Wolf (Fr.).

Outlook: “We are going to be a young team, but a deep team with a lot of strength on our bench,” said Sue Hutchings, program director. “The hard part will be making sure all of our players get some competition time in. Despite losing some solid talent to graduation, we have some very exciting players on the horizon.”

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