The Alpena bowling team has slowly been building up into a highly competitive team over the last few years. According to former bowler and current volunteer assistant Kyle Urban, the Wildcats have turned around from a team that rarely won into a team that competed in the state finals last year.
"When we first started we'd bowl maybe seven matches in a year. And we'd be 2-5, 1-7 or 0-6. Now we bowl about 12 matches a year and we'll go 7-5, 8-3, 9-2," Urban said.
The Wildcats made it to state finals last year after qualifying second in the regional championships. They moved on to the Division 1 state championship where they finished 15th and then-freshman Nick Bisanz reached the qualifying block for the individual state finals.
News Photo by Eric Benac
The Alpena bowling team consists of (left to right): senior Tom Morrois, sophomore Dalton Schaedig, freshman Glen Wolozysk, senior Travis Brown, senior Justin Whitscell, junior Will Rings, sophomore Nick Bisantz. Not pictured: junior Brady Marwede, senior Issac Karstens.
Alpena has already gotten off to a pretty good start this year. The Wildcats won their first match on Saturday in Rogers City against St. Ignace. They won 29 of 30 match points to win. Glen Woloszyck bowled a 202 for the highest score of the night while Bisanz bowled 197 and Travis Brown bowled 192.
Alpena lost its second match on Saturday against Petoskey 21-9. Will Rings bowled a 195 to lead Alpena, but was defeated by Petoskey's Joe Krussel with 209. Rings also bowled 189 in the second game.
Urban was one of the Wildcats' leaders the past several seasons and was a team captain last season. The team is coached by Thunderbowl Lanes co-owner John Snyder and meets two days a week at the bowling alley to practice its skills.
Urban finds bowling to be an excellent sport for many of his players.
"Bowling is great because people that aren't necessarily athletes in other sports can come out, compete and show off their skills. And it's not an easy sport to do well in," he said.
Alpena competes in the Northern Michigan Bowling Conference which consists of Gaylord, Cheboygan, Petoskey, Saint Ignace, Sault Ste. Marie and the always competitive and difficult to beat Rogers City team.
The team has slowly built up its skills over the past few years to the point where the Wildcats now compete neck-and-neck with Rogers City and their other conference opponents.
A big part of this improvement has come from keeping a consistent team over the last few years, bowlers taking it more seriously and focusing on improving their skills. The team runs drills that focus on improving form and technique in a sport that may look easy, but can be difficult to master.
"These guys are really dedicated and they work really hard. I think they really deserve some recognition for how they've improved and what they've already accomplished," Urban said.
Urban expects to see several bowlers contribute heavily to the season.
"Nick Bisanz (sophomore) is one of our top bowlers from last year and he's looking great this year already. Brady Marwede (junior) came out for the team this year and he's been a bowler for years so I expect a lot from him too. Will Rings (junior) should also be a key player," he said.
After making it to state last year, Urban and the team have big expectations for their success this year.
"Our goal is to make it further into state this year and to keep building on our successes. We also want to compete as best we can against Rogers City who always has a tough team. We beat them last year and since we have so many returning kids this year, I think we can do it again," he said.
Alpena bowls next in Sault Ste. Marie against Rogers City and Cheboygan on Saturday.