By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
An online tribute to Mackenzie Watts describes how she “made the people and world around her better.”
The Howell swimming and diving community continues to work so that her memory makes those who come after her safer as well.
Watts died in 2005 after suffering a cardiac arrhythmia. She was a 15-year-old sophomore and key cog on her high school team.
This past weekend, for the sixth straight season, the Highlanders hosted the Kenzie Classic, an invitational that served as a fundraiser for the Howell program and annual Mackenzie Watts scholarship – plus served to promote heart screenings by local National Diagnostic Services in their “HeartMobile” parked outside the pool.
NDS, which also has held screening events at Northville, Canton and Middleville Thornapple Kellogg schools among others, screened 20 students during this Kenzie Classic, said Wellness Director Heidi Enders.
Tests are ultrasound-based and non-invasive, and include an EKG to examine the heart’s electrical system for arrhythmias and an echocardiogram to examine the heart’s structure in case there is a thickening of the muscle (known as hyperthrophic cardiomyopathy). Adults were charged $199 and students $75, with discounted rates for adults in groups and children.
Click to check out coverage of the event from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus.
While tracking down 660 football schedules (give or take a few) took up most of the summer, there still was time for a few additions to the MHSAA record book – with more to come.
Cross country fans should check out our lists of top MHSAA Finals times for every division and every class, plus overall top 10 lists for both boys and girls since the race was set to five kilometers in 1980. Click here for girls and here for boys.
Fond Football Memories
It has been 30 years since former Genesee all-state running back Don Robinson became the fourth player in Genesee County history to run for more than 300 yards in one game – which he did in gaining 317 on Sept. 23, 1983.
High school football and those memories remain close to his heart even after going on to play at Eastern Michigan University, a stint in the U.S. Navy and a move to Georgia.
He’s paid attention over the years as that “300 club” has grown to 22 players including current New Orleans Saints back Mark Ingram, Jr., and the University of Michigan’s Thomas Rawls.
He’s also a regular reader of Second Half, and asked to send along some words of wisdom to those who will be taking the field to begin the season this weekend:
“When you run out onto the field this season, do me a favor. At least once, pause.
“Look around you. Look at the lights in the sky. See the faces of those that have come to see you play. Listen to the band and the cheerleaders. Look into the eyes of your teammates ...
“Take it all in. When you’re older and miss this amazing game that you are playing, you’ll be glad you did.”
PHOTOS: (Top) A swimmer takes the lead during a race at Saturday's Kenzie Klassic at Howell High School. (Photo courtesy of Howell High School.) (Middle) Genesee graduate Don Robinson runs the ball during the 1983 season. (Photo courtesy of Don Robinson.)
Before she was big enough to properly hold a bowling ball, Hannah Reid was spending countless hours at the lanes.
At 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 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.)