Utica Eisenhower junior Ava Ramales follows through on a roll as Eisenhower faces off against Macomb Area Conference Red rival Macomb Dakota Feb. 16 at Shelby Lanes.

Utica Eisenhower junior Ava Ramales follows through on a roll as Eisenhower faces off against Macomb Area Conference Red rival Macomb Dakota Feb. 16 at Shelby Lanes.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Ike girls bowling turns up the volume to earn MAC Red title

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | Shelby-Utica News | Published February 19, 2024


SHELBY TOWNSHIP — They’re the loudest and most energetic team in the bowling alley, and they have every right to be with the way they’ve been playing.

Go to any Macomb Area Conference Red girls bowling meet, and you’re guaranteed to hear one certain cheer that will lead you to the Eisenhower High School girls bowling team.

“Holla” is our No. 1 cheer,” junior Sophia Matheson said. “When somebody gets a strike, we count down from three and we all say, ‘Holla.’” Everybody has adopted “holla” in the MAC Red, so it’s honestly cool. Everyone knows when they hear “holla,” ‘Oh, that’s the Ike girls.’”

Eisenhower’s can-do attitude has catapulted the Eagles to a MAC Red championship this season behind an 8-2 record, catching the MAC Red completely off guard.

Eisenhower hasn’t so much as finished in the middle of the pack since joining the Red in the 2020-2021 season, but this season was all about the Eagles.

The best part is that the team’s success is based on nothing but pure enjoyment and love for the game and one’s teammates.

“They just have fun together and enjoy each other,” Eisenhower head coach Lisa Matheson said. “Half the time they’re having so much fun cheering and yelling that they don’t even know they’re winning.”

Sophia Matheson, daughter of coaches Lisa and Craig Matheson, headlines the Eagles as a returning Division 1 state finals qualifying bowler.

Matheson made it out of the top-16 qualifying block, consisting of 60 bowlers, and was eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.

This season, she’s only taken her game to another level, winning the Macomb County Singles Championship on Jan. 14 at 5 Star Lanes in Sterling Heights and carrying a 193 average.

But as dominant as Matheson has been, she credits the team’s bond as the key reason behind its league-winning success.

“I feel like our team chemistry and just the vibes we bring to all the meets is really cool,” Sophia Matheson said. “We have a whole bunch of chants we do to support each other, and we just keep the energy positive.”

Junior Emerson Rietsch has solidified the second spot for the Eagles with a 172 average, while juniors Lauren Milot (155) and Ava Ramales (154) round out the top-four averages on the team. Senior Liz Huebner, the lone senior on the squad, has been a consistent contributor this season with a 131 average.

Rietsch was a newcomer to the sport of bowling her freshman year and has progressed each season to become a core piece of the Eagles’ success.

Emerson Rietsch’s younger sister, freshman Paisley Rietsch, has followed in her older sister’s footsteps this season, picking up bowling for the first time over the summer.

Not even a year into the sport, the southpaw bowler has held her own with a 136 average and has been a spark to an already loaded Eisenhower team.

“She’s extremely coachable, and she’s one of those kiddos that it’s, ‘Tell me what I can do, tell me what I can do better, and tell me what I should do and I’ll do it,’” Lisa Matheson said. “She’s got a great personality and is just an overall great teammate.”

Paisley said she joined the bowling team to be around Emerson and Sophia Matheson, but what she didn’t expect was the impact that bowling would have on her in such a short time.

It’s difficult to pick up any sport for the first time, especially competing on the varsity level, but Paisley credits the team as the reason that she’s bowling confidently.

“I really feel like it was the whole team,” Paisley Rietsch said. “The whole energy was so welcoming from everyone. The coaches too, especially coach Craig (Matheson), because he is left-handed, which is what I do. It was really easy to get what he was telling me.”

Chanting their way to a league title, the Eagles are hoping the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 1 Region 5 Championship isn’t their final stop of the season.

Eisenhower will look to clinch a top-three spot at regionals on Feb. 23 at Century Lanes in Waterford Township, while the state qualifying round for singles will take place on Feb. 24.

Matheson will look to qualify for the second-consecutive season, while Milot, who finished just outside the top-10 last year, hopes to earn her first state qualification.

The Eagles are sure to bring the energy to regionals, and they have a lot more chants than their patented “holla” at their disposal.

Either way, this season will be one for the books for the Eisenhower girls bowling program.

“I’m just really proud of us and what we’ve accomplished,” Sophia Matheson said. “Compared to our past seasons, this is something I would’ve never imagined. We’re going up against some amazing schools, so what we’ve done is really cool.”