Kearsley Aims to Begin Next Title Streak

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

February 4, 2021

Reigning Division 2 girls bowling singles champion Megan Timm doesn’t have to go far to find a high level of competition and keep herself sharp.

The Flint Kearsley senior just has to go to practice.

“We’re each other’s biggest competition, for sure,” Timm said. “You always want to beat whoever you’re with, and it’s made us want to work harder when we have that friendly competition. Our challenge matches are pretty much formatted like state was, so getting that competitive atmosphere outside of tournaments is a good way to prepare you for those competitions.”

Timm is one of four returning individual Finals qualifiers for the Hornets this season, joining classmates Allison Eible, Allison Robbins and Emilea Sturk. They form the core of a Kearsley team looking to get back to the top of the division after having its six-year run of Finals team titles snapped a year ago.

Having to be at their best just to maintain their desired spot in the lineup is a good way to prepare.

“It’s intense,” Robbins said. “It’s crazy because it’s been this way since our sophomore year. We were all taught to bowl together when we’re in a team setting, and we do that when we’re bowling Bakers and bowling singles (within a team match). But obviously, when we’re bowling singles tournaments, we’re also bowling against each other.”

A year ago, Timm and Eible advanced to the match-play portion of the Finals, with Timm going on to win after earning the 15th of 16 qualifying spots. She became the third individual champion in the program’s history, finishing off on a high note what had been a disappointing weekend for Kearsley.

The day prior, Kearsley lost in the semifinals of the Team Finals against eventual champion Mason. While a run to the state Final Four may count as an accomplishment for most programs, the Kearsley girls were devastated, as they had won the previous six titles, and seven of the last eight. It was also the final match for coach Rob Ploof, who was retiring after leading the program to all of those titles. 

“It was an exhausting day,” Sturk said. “There was just a lot going on. When we started to lose, I think we just kind of felt like we had already lost it. We just couldn’t get back. It was weird, because we always come back. There was a lot of pressure, especially with it being (Ploof’s) last year. We wanted to win so bad for him, and we wanted to keep the streak alive, of course. The pressure just really got us.”

Coach Kevin Shute, who previously coached at Dryden and was the JV coach at Kearsley a year ago, made sure to talk through that Finals disappointment with the team.

“They tried too hard,” he said. “They tried a little too hard there. They were reflecting back and looking at it, telling me all of the things they would have done differently. I think those four girls for sure are definitely hungry.”

The disappointment quickly turned to motivation.

“I think after last season, we were really disappointed with our finish,” Eible said. “And seeing we are seniors, we are more determined than ever to finish our last season out on top and add to our accomplishments. We have all worked so hard to be where we are today, and I’m so proud to call these girls not only my teammates but my family.”

The Hornets had an early test of not only their ability, but their resolve, as they opened their season this past Saturday against Swartz Creek. After falling behind 12-7, they rallied for a 17-13 victory, extending their regular-season match win streak to 132. 

Maintaining a decade-long streak could add more pressure, but it’s something the Hornets have become used to carrying.

“Sometimes, but to be honest, I don’t ever really feel (the pressure),” Sturk said. “I’m just focused on bowling and focused on uplifting my team if we’re doing bad. I try to keep my attitude up and keep everybody’s attitude up. We go into a match never expecting to lose. We try to go into a match with as much confidence as possible, because we can’t -- basically we can’t lose because of the streak. It feels like, if we lose, that would be the weirdest feeling.”

Joining the core four seniors on varsity this season are fellow senior Rhyan Langdon-Yaklin, junior Lydia Boggs and sophomore Sara Ritchie. There’s also a strong contingent of bowlers just outside the top seven who continue to push for their own opportunities.

“Our seventh and eighth bowlers could probably start on any varsity team,” Shute said. “It’s always nice to have depth, especially since this year we’re going to lose five seniors, and next year is going to look a lot different.”

While it may look different, the goal for the Hornets is that it will look familiar for the program, in that they’ll be pursuing a repeat Finals championship.

“Winning a state title is just a feeling like no other,” Timm said. “The girls I looked up to when I was younger started a legacy, and I’d really like to leave another legacy.”

Paul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) From left to right, now-seniors Allison Eible, Allison Robbins, Emilea Sturk and Megan Timm led Kearsley as well during last season’s Regional. (Middle) Eible begins a frame during competition. (Photos courtesy of the Flint Kearsley girls bowling program.)

With Only Championship Step Left to Take, Reid Ready to Earn Every Pin

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

December 6, 2023

Before she was big enough to properly hold a bowling ball, Hannah Reid was spending countless hours at the lanes.

Bay & ThumbAt the former Town and Country Lanes, which was run by her grandmother, Reid would hold the ball with both hands near her chest, and toss it down the lane with all the might in her 3-year-old body. But it better have stayed out of the gutter.

“Never used bumpers,” said her father, Mike Reid. “She had to earn every pin.”

The Flushing senior has continued to earn every pin for the past 15 years, and this past season, it led to an unlikely run to the Division 1 Bowling Singles Final championship match. She finished runner-up, which just means there’s more pins to knock down and one more step to take.

“I have a lot more confidence, but it’s also scary,” she said, “because the only way I can get better is being the state champion. But I have to push for that.”

It’s a lot to ask of herself, but so was overcoming the odds to get to the title-deciding match a year ago.

Reid was bowling in her first Finals tournament and found herself outside the top 16 after the first four games of the qualifying block. She closed with a 207 and 217 in the final two games to sneak in as the 16th seed by two pins.

“I struggled in the first part of the game,” she said. “But once the lanes transitioned, I transitioned with them in a good way.”

Even then, Reid was facing long odds, facing No. 1 seed Melanie Straub of New Baltimore Anchor Bay in the first round. Straub had dominated qualifying, finishing 54 pins ahead of the second seed. But after the first game, Reid trailed by only six pins. She caught up and pulled away in the second to pull off a massive upset.

“I think she probably surprised herself more than anyone,” Flushing bowling coach Jeremy Jurvelin said. “Once she beat (Straub), it definitely became more on her radar that she could make a run for the Finals.”

Reid did just that, winning her next two matches before her Cinderella run came to a close in the championship match against Clarkston’s Katie Stephens.

“That was one heck of a run,” said Mike Reid, a volunteer coach for Flushing who handles the girls program. “It was awesome. It’s still a tear-jerker, especially with how close she came to being a state champion, which is huge. Hopefully, we can make that run again. But I don’t like that 16 seed. Top five would be great.”

Mike Reid has been there every step of the way in Hannah’s bowling journey, from those days when she was two-hand pushing a ball down the lane, to now, when she’s entered her senior season having already signed to bowl collegiately at Lawrence Tech and is bowling some of the best games of her life.

She bowled her high series – 734 – during a rec league match in late November. That came one day after her dad rolled a 733.

It wasn’t a direct victory over Dad, but it was a victory. And Dad was OK with it.

“It’s still kind of cool that she topped me by one pin the next day,” he said. “Maybe one day she’ll get to my 857. I can’t wait until she gets her first 300 game.”

Hannah very nearly did get that perfect game a year ago. She bowled a 287 on Jan. 8 in a tournament at Richfield Bowl in Flint. As she neared the end, all eyes started to turn toward her. Going through that, she said, was more nerve-racking than competing in the Division 1 Final.

Perhaps that helped as she recently won an Under-18 Michigan Junior Masters Association tournament in Westland. It took a comeback in her semifinal, which she wound up winning by one pin, to pull it off.

“It’s not over until it’s over,” she said, which may be cliche, but fitting of her record in the biggest bowling tournaments of her life.

Reid opened her high school season with 248 and 204 games to lead her team to a win against Goodrich. 

This year’s Flushing team returns every bowler from a year ago and has a chance to qualify for the Team Final for the first time since 2020. 

Having strong teammates to push her has only driven Reid more this season.

“During practice, we do different drills and competitions,” she said. “So winning those competitions sets you up for everything.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTO Flushing’s Hannah Reid shows off her Division 1 Final runner-up medal last season with coach Jeremy Jurvelin, left, and father and coach Mike Reid. (Photo courtesy of the Reid family.)