The pins were falling as the Chelsea High School Bowling Team practiced Monday afternoon at Chelsea Lanes.
The reigning SEC champion varsity boys team, the varsity girls team and their junior varsity counterparts were honing their skills Monday afternoon before today’s scrimmage against Grass Lake at Chelsea Lanes.
In fact, about 50 high school bowlers were at the lanes as coaches offered tips on mechanics, grip, timing and balance changes.
Ninth-year Boys Head Coach Ed Greenleaf, Jr. is coming off an SEC championship last season and heads into this fall with what he calls “one of our best put-together teams.”
The boys’ team will be led by two stand-out seniors – Jake Layher, a left-hander and Jesse Stebelton, a right-hander.
Both, he says, are very consistent, and average about 210-215.
Both Layher and Stebelton said they tried bowling and found they had the natural skill set for the sport, plus, they liked the challenge of it.
“They practice hard and have learned the game,” Greenleaf says of the varsity team, adding “They’ll be rolling for an SEC and state championship this year.”
Rick Benson of CS Hearing is the fifth-year JV coach. He said the JV squad is basically “first-year kids working on fundamentals. It’s the training team and everyone rolls in the meet to make sure they get lane time.”
And sometimes, if they are on a roll, they get moved up to varsity at a meet.
Tuesday afternoon they were working on throwing and releasing the ball.
For the senior varsity girls, Greenleaf said, there are potential scholarship opportunities on the line this year as bowling is an NCAA sanctioned sport.
All the teams are following the motto, “Strikes win games, spares win championships.”
“The girls struggled last year but this year I think they’ll make some noise,” he said, and they have a new, first-year coach in Tom DeBacker, who has immediately gained the girls’ confidence.
“We’re feeling confident,” said Jessi Baldwin. “He’s always right there helping us. He’s very informative.”
Tracie Elkins agreed. “I’m glad to have a new coach,” she said.
DeBacker said he hopes that there will be enough girls for both a varsity and JV team so everyone will have the chance to play. “It’s primarily a new group,” he said.
The team is coached by Greenleaf, Benson, DeBacker, Cameron Voss and Kathy Greenleaf and opens its regular season at home against Tecumseh on Dec. 3 at 3:30 p.m. at Chelsea Lanes.