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 Members of the Utica Eisenhower boys bowling team stand together prior to the Division 1 state championship at Thunderbowl. The Eagles beat Salem High by five pins March 6 to win the title.

Members of the Utica Eisenhower boys bowling team stand together prior to the Division 1 state championship at Thunderbowl. The Eagles beat Salem High by five pins March 6 to win the title.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Ike boys bowling claims first state title in program history

By: Jacob Herbert | Shelby - Utica News | Published March 16, 2020

 Utica Eisenhower’s Nolan Horne warms up prior to the boys state final. The Eagles also won the Macomb Area Conference White Division as well as the league tournament this year.

Utica Eisenhower’s Nolan Horne warms up prior to the boys state final. The Eagles also won the Macomb Area Conference White Division as well as the league tournament this year.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — It almost didn’t happen.

The Utica Eisenhower boys bowling team was looking to cap off a season in which it won the Macomb Area Conference White Division, the MAC White league tournament and seven other tournaments it participated in this year with a Division 1 state championship.

Heading into the 10th frame of the championship match with Salem High March 6 at Thunderbowl, Ike coach John Snider said his team trailed by more than 100 pins.

The Eagles caught some breaks in the final frame when three Salem bowlers left splits and were unable to pick them up.

Eisenhower was able to take advantage, led by senior Dylan Kelley. He stepped up under the bright lights to deliver three straight strikes as Ike captured the state title by five pins.

“It was electric. It was absolutely electric,” Snider said. “There were probably 800 or 900 people in the arena at Thunderbowl. No one gave us a chance, then all of a sudden we had an opportunity to win and we took advantage of it. The feeling was amazing.”

The final score in the championship match was 1,454-1,449.

Ike’s route to the its first state title in school history started with a 1,553-1,149 win over Swartz Creek High in opening round action. After the win over the Dragons, the only team standing in the way of a finals appearance was defending state champion Farmington High.

Snider said his team, just as it had been all season, was calm and relaxed. It showed as the Eagles flew by Farmington 1,314-1,160.

“I think we bowled like that all day, and that was the key to us winning the tournament,” Snider said. “We were ranked No. 1 all year long and we just had that quiet confidence.”

Snider said the maturity of his team, made up of two seniors and five sophomores, and the way they handled adversity are what will stick with him when he looks back on its trophy run.

The Eagles boasted depth all season long. All seven bowlers were good, strong bowlers. But from a leadership standpoint, it was Kelley and sophomore Carter Milasinovich who came through when it mattered most.

“He’s (Kelley) probably the best bowler I’ve had in my time at Eisenhower,” Snider said. “Him and Carter Milasinovich are incredibly talented kids. When the chips were down and we needed both of them, they were there.”

In a word, Snider described the season as “magical.” The Eagles were a perfect 10-0 in the MAC White and won the league tournament over runner-up St. Clair Shores Lakeview by 284 pins.

“We just had a phenomenal year,” Snider said.

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