Oakland County is considered to be home to a lot of talented bowlers in the state, and boys and girls varsity teams from the area are going to have an opportunity to show off their skills in the upcoming Oakland County Bowling Championships.
The girls varsity tournament will be held Jan. 21, while the boys will have their opportunity on Jan. 22. Both events will take place at Thunderbird Lanes in Troy; the start time is around 9 a.m.
Approximately 30 teams will be participating in the tournament. After the initial qualifying round, the field will be reduced to 16 teams. At that point, the teams will be seeded, and the tournament will take on an NCAA March Madness type of format.
At the end of the day, only one team will lay claim to being the Oakland County champion.
Having the opportunity to hoist a trophy is no small matter to the teams participating.
“It’s definitely competitive,” said Berkley coach Robert Arney. “There’s no question there. It’s real good high school bowling. For the top schools, it gets competitive, because after you get past the qualifying round and end up bowling (against) somebody out of your own conference, you want to show your domination if you can.”
Aside from mere bragging rights, the tournament can also act as an excellent barometer to let teams know how serious a contender they may be once the postseason tournaments come around.
In recent years, individual state champions, as well as state championship teams, have come out of Oakland County, and the tournament represents a good opportunity for individual players and teams to find out where they stand.
“A lot of tournament state qualifiers come from Oakland County, whether it be in singles or team,” Arney said. “You can tell who might be a favorite at a regional based on the Oakland County tournament, or any of the county tournaments. Some of the other schools might be looking at one of the top finishers out of Oakland County as one of the favorites going into regionals. It’s a good barometer of what you’re going up against in states, if you look at the Oakland County Championships.”
Last season, Waterford Kettering’s boys and girls teams won the team championships, while Clarkston’s Erik Wagner and Oxford’s Heather Lafnear captured the boys and girls individual titles, respectively.
While upsets are always a distinct possibility in tournament play, Arney does have some guesses as to which programs are favored.
“As far as girls go, Milford is always good,” he said. “Walled Lake Central, I think, usually has really good girls teams. I would definitely say Clarkston and Lake Orion out of the OAA. Boys side, from what I’ve seen, Lake Orion and Clarkston are good. Farmington Harrison, definitely. For the most part, cream rises to the top.”