If you visited your local bowling center over the weekend, maybe you noticed it was a little quieter than usual.
That's because a significant number of avid teen bowlers were downstate competing in Michigan High School Athletic Association regional tournaments.
Travel was long for everyone, with venues in Bay City, Traverse City and Cheboygan. But despite that, it was a banner year for several area programs.
Two schools, Westwood and L'Anse, qualified squads for the state team finals for the first time ever, while Ishpeming-Negaunee again saw both its teams advance. Even Marquette, entered in a tougher Division 2, moved a boy and girl onto the state singles championships this weekend.
Each regional included four events - boys team and girls team tourneys Friday, and boys singles and girls singles Saturday.
The top three teams and 10 singles bowlers advanced from each region to the finals.
Here's a rundown, division by division:
Division 4 at Traverse City
Westwood placed second in the girls team tourney, as did L'Anse in the corresponding boys event to advance to Battle Creek this weekend.
Patriots coach Barrie Rae and Purple Hornets mentor Cheryl Dingeldey both told me this was a first in their program's history.
Westwood totaled 2,962 for three regular team games and six Baker-style games where individuals alternate frames to come up with a single score. Though they missed first place by 246 pins, more importantly they were 253 pins ahead of the first team out of the finals, St. Ignace.
Individually, Amanda Prophet led an all-senior lineup with a 211 game and three-game total of 505, while Brooke Bartol shot 432 and Kathryn Kulju 400. Kendra Musselman, Rebecca Poirier, Haylee Roncaglione and Norveig Olsen also participated, but not for a full three games.
L'Anse had 3,392 to trail the top spot by 359 pins but also was 264 pins ahead of the first team on the outs.
Individual totals weren't available, though Dingeldey pointed out that her boys had one of only three Baker games above 200 and in two of the regular games.
Bowling for L'Anse were sophomores Tucker Hemmila and Joe Hansen, junior Sean Spruce, and seniors Casey Carter, Freddy Dakota and Chase Warner.
Westwood's boys, who missed the third-place team cut by 157 pins with 3,016, were paced by three seniors - Tyler Harvala with a 462 series, Lucas Ferguson 460 and Matt Hegman a 200 game.
In girls singles, Roncaglione was third of 39 bowlers with a six-game total of 974 and a high game of 186. Prophet was fifth with 958 and a 200.
The hard-luck bowler was Kulju, another senior who shot 891 and missed the state finals cut by a measly five pins to come in 11th. Musselman was another 21 pins back in 14th.
In boys singles, Hemmila was second out of 72 bowlers with 1,097, including a 238-187 finish. Dakota was 17th, missing the cut by 56 pins with 989 and a 235 start, while Hansen was 18th three more pins back.
Westwood's top bowler was Harvala in 26th with 918.
Division 3 at Cheboygan
Ishpeming-Negaunee won the boys team title and was runner-up for the girls. In addition, three boys and three girls made the finals cut to advance to Jackson this weekend.
The Hematite boys were one of just two teams in all of Division 3 that exceeded 4,000 as they rolled up 4,085, 188 pins ahead of runner-up Cheboygan.
Senior Kirk Guckenberg led his team in regular bowling with a 244 game in a 607 series, senior Austin Wilkins had 227 in 598, senior Matt Kilberg 203 in 587, sophomore Lucas Solka 212 in 584 and sophomore Andrew Maki 538.
The Hematite girls shot 3,407 to finish 203 pins out of first and 85 pins ahead of the first team to miss the cut.
Junior Kaylee O'Connor had 211 in 550, junior Kassy Harsila 478, senior Kaytlynne Carlson 476, senior Jaime Olson 471 and sophomore Kassey Kytola 435.
Olson led Ishpeming to its best finish in singles, third for the girls with 1,062 and a 235. She missed first place by just 17 pins. Carlson was fifth with 1,060 including 222, while O'Connor was sixth with 1,040 and a 224.
Harsila was the top girl to miss the cut, coming up 53 pins short in 23rd with 956.
For the boys, Wilkins tied for fifth with 1,223, a 203.8 average, while Kilberg was eighth with 1,218 and Guckenberg ninth with 1,211. Each had four games over 200.
Missing the cut by 22 pins was Solka with 1,167, while Maki was 27th with 1,072.
Division 2 at Bay City
Juniors Alexa Ingram and Trevor Buchanan will represent Marquette at the state finals in Waterford.
Ingram was second in girls singles with 1,186, a 197.7 average, including four games over 200. She missed first place by 19 pins.
Buchanan was third in boys singles with 1,145, including a 241-190 finish that propelled 64 pins clear of the first bowler out of the running.
Next best were senior Brianna Holm in the girls with 1,005, 30 pins under the cut in 15th, and junior Jessie Bianchi in the boys with 1,039, 53 pins beyond the cut in 25th.
Teamwise, the Redettes were sixth in girls with 3,074, 109 pins under the cut, while the Redmen were ninth with 3,423, 292 pins out.
Holm shot 486 as the only bowler in team to post three games, though Ingram had the high girls game of 173 and juniors Caleb Kaznowski had 219 and Drew Scott 215 for the boys.
With this lengthy report, I'll double up The Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week next week.