Even defending state bowling champions feel the heat when they’re going for a repeat.
“Definitely,” said University of Detroit-Jesuit senior Mike Davis, one of three returning bowlers from last season’s state championship team.
“When we’re in a tournament, teams are watching to see what we do. If they beat us, they feel like they’ve proved themselves. We’re the target. If you take down U of D, you’ve been successful. The coach tells us that. We’re prepared for it.”
The Cubs won their first Division 1 team title a year ago, defeating New Haven, 1,409-1,360. Jesuit dominated the Bakers portion of the tournament at Sunnybrook, throwing games of 268 and 279.
Coach Darrin Flowers lost four seniors: Lloyd Lyons, David Kucken, Ben Szmatula and Matt Davis.
The core of this year’s team is Davis along with brothers Keith (junior) and Ryan Reid (freshman), junior Cameron Keuning, junior Jimmy Jeneraux and senior Max Lentine.
Literally days after winning the title, the Cubs wanted to get back on the lanes to work on their game.
“They’re a younger group,” Flowers said. “I have a freshman on varsity. He has been bowling well, but he has to learn his way around the tournaments. He’s adjusting.
“They practiced more this summer more than any team at U of D has ever practiced since I’ve been in the coaching mix. They did a lot of work. They organized it themselves. They carpooled and say, ‘Hey, coach, we’re going to Thunderbird, can you show up if you can?’ If not, we’ll be there practicing. The three returning kids are definitely taking it seriously and they jumped out in front to take the lead.
“Mike and Cameron are the leaders. They’ve really stepped out. We can really see the growth in Mike because he’s willing to give freshmen rides to practice if they need a ride. Before, that wasn’t really his character but, you can tell after winning, he stepped up in a leadership role.”
Keuning is the organizer. He sets up group text messages and makes sure his teammates know tournament times and locations along with practice times.
“We worked over the summer every Sunday,” Davis said. “We’d meet up, the whole team would practice. We’d get over 20 guys to show up, which was good.”
Davis is the first bowler on the team to use the two-handed delivery and has taught his younger teammates how to use the technique.
“We have a lot of two-handers, and I kind of started the two-handed style here four years ago,” Davis said. “I try to help all the two handers on the team, the freshmen and sophomore, so when I leave they can take over my role.”
It’s not easy.
“To master the two-handed shot, you really have to work on your feet the most,” Davis said. “Your feet are crucial to how accurate you’re going to be. It is difficult to be accurate with two hands. Your footwork has to be perfect. If you watch a lot of people who bowl two-handed, their form can be wrong.”
Flowers describes himself as a technician and his focus is “Getting them to the 1-3 pocket,” he said.
“I’m an execution guy. As long as you can get to the pocket, the scores will come. I’m not really worried about chasing high scores or a high-scoring house. I’m worried moreso about the 1-3. I know the top teams makes spares, regardless if the scores are high or low.”
Contact Perry A. Farrell: 313-222-2555 or email@example.com.