Wilkins, Junak, their teams taste success at regionals

The Mining Journal's reporter Steve Brownlee receives a Good News Awards from Bishop James Garland during a lunch and awards ceremony Wednesday at the Landmark Inn in Marquette. (Journal photo by Dave Edwards)

Led by junior Megan Wilkins and sophomore Dylan Junak, the Ishpeming-Negaunee girls and Westwood boys bowling teams had huge success at the MHSAA regionals held downstate on Friday and Saturday.

I-N’s Wilkins and the Patriots’ Junak not only won their regional singles tournaments against about 70 competitors, but they led their school(s) to berths in the state team finals, too.

I-N competes in Division 3 and travels back downstate to Northway Lanes in Muskegon for Friday’s team tourney and Saturday’s singles.

Westwood is a Division 4 teams and heads to M-66 Bowl in Battle Creek for its finals on the same days.

Before I get to these success stories, one other bowler also made it to states — I-N senior boy Hunter Peterson, who was seventh on Saturday with 1,163, 26 pins ahead of the 10-man cut.

Now onto our big success stories.

Westwood has to be the enormous surprise, considering it was just two or three years ago that not enough boys were willing to try the sport for the Patriots to field a team in the Upper Peninsula Bowling Conference.

This season, however, Westwood finished second among 13 squads in Friday’s team regional in Traverse City, totaling 3,765 to finish ahead of the first team out, fourth-place Oscoda, by nearly 300 pins.

In singles on Saturday, Junak totaled 1,183 for six games, a 197.2 average with three 200 games and a high of 223 to beat out the runner-up by eight pins.

That runner-up? None other than freshman teammate Stephen Kangas with 1,175. He broke 200 twice with a high of 212 and never shot less than 180.

And Patriots junior Brayden Vickstrom was sixth with 1,116, including a 224 finish that locked up his finals spot as he finished 34 pins ahead of the first bowler out of the top 10.

Wilkins, who a little bird told me wasn’t happy with her finish in the UPBC girls singles competition a few weeks ago, steeled herself for a 53-pin victory in the Division 3 girls singles held in Cheboygan on Saturday.

She shot 1,146, a 191.0 average with three 200s including a 207 high.

Senior teammate Caitlyn Lee was third, just seven pins out of second, with 1,086 and two 200s with a 217 high.

And finally there was senior Kassidy Pirkola, who cut it close but tied for ninth with 989 and a 178 high. She and a downstate bowler each beat out the hard-luck 11th place finisher by just two pins.

Team-wise the I-N girls also grabbed the third and last spot to make it to the state finals. The difference, though, was that this squad had a 112-pin cushion on fourth-place Standish-Sterling.

There were a number of other competitors who were also at regionals.

In Division 2 at Bay City, the Marquette girls were sixth and Redmen boys seventh in team, each missing the three-team cut by 200 to 300 pins.

Senior Megan McIntire had the closest call in singles for Marquette, finishing 13th for the girls with 1,053, just 23 pins from the cut. Teammate Amanda McIntire was 18th with 1,018, Kaylee Reader 19th with 1,000 and Rayna Fredy 57th with 786.

Junior Mason Garceau was MSHS’ top boy in 18th with 1,148, just 49 off the cut. Teammate Kennan Johnson was 22nd with 1,117, James Bender 53rd with 974, Bryce Radcliff tied for 55th with 968 and Thayer Yates 58th with 961.

In Division 3, the I-N boys were eighth with 3,649, a bit more than 200 pins from the cut.

In singles, senior Carin Britton just missed being the fourth I-N girl headed to states, finishing 12th with 982 and missing the cut by only seven pins. Teammate Mackenzie Ryan was 42nd with 831.

For the I-N boys in singles, freshman Dawsen Emanuelson was 43rd with 1,002, Nick Varda 54th with 946, Mason Mitchell and Jack Waananen tied for 66th with 887 and Joey King 68th with 884.

L’Anse’s lone competitor in Division 4, junior Jenna Messer, came in 14th with 877 and missed the finals cut by just 44 pins.

For the Westwood boys, sophomore Evan Rae was 17th with 1,022, missing the cut by 67. Teammate Bob Papp was 28th with 947 and Dylan Beebe tied for 51st with 821.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.