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Utica

March 18, 2013

Utica bowling captures its second consecutive regional championship

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Utica High’s bowling team captured a second consecutive regional title. Pictured, front row, from left, Tyler Hood, Adam Young, Josh Pointer and Joe Mazza. Back row, left, coach John Mazza, Andrew Venturini, Joe McNeil and coach John Venturini.

Utica boys bowling completed a season that saw it qualify for 10th place at the Division 1 state finals and capture a second consecutive regional title.

Coach John Mazza, who bowled professionally for 20 years and has eight titles to his credit, thinks he knows what the key was for Utica to be able to walk away from the season as regional champs.

“I think the preparation and dedication by both the coaches, myself and John Venturini (whom Mazza considers a co-head coach),” he said. “We put a lot of effort in with the kids, and the kids made the effort. In the end, when it was all on the line, it paid dividends. When you get yourself prepared for things, you get yourself an opportunity to win, and that’s kind of what it’s all about.”

Seeing the type of competition Utica does within the Macomb Area Conference Red Division during the regular season is also something Mazza thinks was beneficial for his team.

“(Macomb) Dakota, (a) two-time state champion — they came in our division, and so did Chippewa Valley,” he said. “Chippewa Valley was probably the No. 1-ranked team in the state for most of the year — they won our division. Being in this division helped us this year tremendously. It’s so competitive.”

Josh Pointer, Adam Young and Steve Baranski are Utica’s three senior representatives. Mazza acknowledged what their graduation means for Utica’s bowling program.

“It’s impossible to replace the kids we’re losing this year, for a lot of different reasons,” he said. “Steve Baranski’s a wonderful kid. … You got Adam, who’s just a consummate competitor; really tough in the clutch. One of the most consistent bowlers I’ve ever coached. And Josh Pointer is incredibly talented. He’s a winner and motivator. He’s just a great bowler. We’re going to lose some great kids.”

Although Utica will be without the services of those seniors, Mazza has lofty ambitions for next season. He thinks the team has an opportunity to build off of this season’s success and is aiming high.

“I’m very optimistic for next year,” he said. “I think there’s a high potential that we’ll be able to win the state championship. You can’t guarantee, but the opportunity’s going to be there. I think we’re going to definitely be one of the teams that will be competing for it. It’s just a matter of getting the kids on board and getting (them) ready to play.”

In other Utica bowling notes:
Young was voted as the MAC Red MVP, and junior Joe Mazza was selected first team All-Conference. Mazza also qualified fifth at regionals and seventh at the state finals.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.