Oakland County’s best high school bowlers hit the lanes hard Jan. 21-22 to determine the top teams and individuals around. The girls bowled Jan. 21 at Fairlanes Bowl in Madison Heights, while the boys took to the alley Jan. 22 at Thunderbird Lanes in Troy.
Lake Orion High took home the girls team title, edging rival Clarkston High in the final. Waterford Kettering’s Brittney Antonelli bowled a three-game total score of 691 to take the individual crown.
On the boys side, Waterford Mott defeated Oxford in the team finals, while Hazel Park’s Charles Zelechowski rolled a three-game total of 725 to win the individual title.
In the girls team competition, Lakeland took third place; Walled Lake Central finished fourth; and North Farmington, Oxford High, Milford High and Waterford Mott were all quarterfinalists in the 25-school event. Other local teams that qualified for the 16-team knockout portion of the tournament included Walled Lake Western, Farmington Hills Mercy and Ferndale High.
Rounding out the top 10 in the girls individual competition are Kate Gladstone (Lake Orion), Rae’ve Turner (North Farmington), Colleen Walters (Oxford), Stephanie Lavely (Clarkston), Caitlyn Wroblewski (Oxford), Jessie Demeter (Milford), Lindsay Brown (Walled Lake Western), Erica Davies (Holly) and Theresa Bashara (Milford).
In the boys team competition, Farmington Hills Harrison finished third; Walled Lake Western was fourth; and Waterford Kettering, Clarkston, Livonia Clarenceville and South Lyon East were all quarterfinalists. Locally, Lake Orion, Walled Lake Northern, Ferndale and North Farmington all made the round of 16.
Following Zelechowski in the top 10 of the individual tournament were Ken O’Connor (Novi-Detroit Catholic Central), Tyler Pajot (Walled Lake Western), Andrew Stanny (South Lyon East), Josh Baryla (Lake Orion), Sean McKinney (Oxford), Eric Pavlov (Catholic Central), Brandon Hurlburt (Oxford), Tyler Marcus (South Lyon), Mike Uren (Livonia Clarenceville) and Eric Horwitz (North Farmington).
The competition was close throughout both tournaments. In the case of Lake Orion’s girls team, less than 10 pins decided four elimination matches.
“The biggest key to our success on Saturday was staying calm under pressure,” Lake Orion coach Kevin Crowther said.
The Dragons even fell behind by 44 pins to Milford after the first game in their quarterfinal match, but never lost their cool.
“I told the girls that the match wasn’t over yet, and to just go out and focus on making good bowling shots. Milford left us a couple of openings, and we took advantage of their mistakes by filling frames,” Crowther said.
Gladstone, Casey Baryla, Becca Mix, Alicia Babicz, Kendra Stankiwicz, Courtney Keisman and Courtney LeBlanc made up Lake Orion’s title-winning team.
Crowther said the accomplishment is extra special because of the tough competition the Dragons faced.
“The overall quality of the county tournament is always really good,” the coach said. “Historically speaking, some of the best teams in the state are from Oakland County. Teams like Clarkston, Walled Lake Central, Milford and Lakeland have reputations that precede them. A win like this is definitely something to brag about.”
With the postseason around the corner, Crowther and Lake Orion are also hoping a win like this is something to build on.
“We are very excited for the girls,” he said. “Hopefully, the win is a prelude of what is coming up in the next month. The county championship tournament marks the beginning of championship season. In the next month, we have the OAA league championship tournament, the MHSAA Division 1 regional tournament, and hopefully, the MHSAA state championship tournament.”
Oakland Activities Association tournaments are Feb. 18. Regionals get under way Feb. 24-25 at various locations; the top-three finishing teams and top 10 individuals from regionals will head off to the March 2-3 state finals.