Salem Boys Bowling Wins State Championship

On March 3, Salem Boys Bowling competed in the Division 1 state finals at Sterling Lanes in Sterling Heights. This wasn’t the team’s first appearance at states; in 2013, the Rocks were able to lock down the state champion title, and the teams this year was determined take it all once again, and take it all they did. The Rocks came home to Plymouth-Canton as Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) state champions.

Salem junior Brendan Kwapis said, “I was really excited. I wanted to get out there and prove to everyone that I deserved to be there and that our team deserves to win.”

The day started off pretty well for the team. They kicked off the day with a match against St. Clair Shores Lakeview, which they won by 161 pins (1293-1132). This put a large light of hope into the bowlers’ eyes, preparing them for their second match which was against Grand Haven. They won by two pins more than the last match, with a final score of 1312 to 1149, putting them right into the final bracket of the tournament to compete for the ultimate title.

The pressure was high and the air was full of tension as the teams approached their lanes. The moment the Rocks have been waiting for was upon them. They were only an arm’s length away from holding the state champion trophy in their hands.

Senior bowler Mitchell Rusinek said, “The turning point was when the teams we beat on our way to winning began to struggle, fall apart and miss spares. I could see they were getting nervous about losing.” The Rocks, however, “kept [their] composure and just kept positive thoughts and actions between [themselves].”

“We told ourselves that we made [it] this far and have nothing to lose, so let’s just get out there and give it our all,” said Rusinek.

The team went up against Hudsonville High School in the final round. Hudsonville came with the same mentality as the Rocks; they weren’t leaving without a title. Unfortunately, Hudsonville didn’t leave with the title they wanted. The Rocks ripped the state champion title out of the clutches of Hudsonville by just 53 pins (1285-1232), bestowing the title onto themselves.

The top bowlers included senior Shane Rusinek at the top spot with 175, senior Ryan Gonyea coming in a close second with 169 and wrapping it up at third, was junior Josh Hall with a score of 169.

From the beginning of the day, Salem bowling coach, Kathie Hahn, who had taken the 2013 team to the state champion title previously, never once doubted her team. She said, “I woke up that morning knowing that they could do it. I even said to the Canton [bowling] coach that morning at breakfast, ‘I just know they can go all the way’, but I was very nervous and anxious, but excited to be there.”

The state champion title wasn’t just important for the team itself, but also for the school they represent. “In 2013, our guys won, and we continued the bowling legacy with this title. Salem athletics in general seems to struggle, but nobody thinks about the bowling team. Every year we are forgotten about in the student body. Yet, again we proved our dedication and resilience to win the state title once again,” said Hall.

The team’s original goal was to have an undefeated regular season. Although that didn’t happen, the team kept their heads up and didn’t let the losses get the best of them. Salem freshman Noah Samuels said, “Every tournament we went to roll-offs or just won with total pins. We knew from the beginning that this was a winning team in the making. We had some heartbreaking losses along the way, but we bounced back from them and beat that team the next time.”

Samuels continued on to explain the team’s intensity. “We bowled four to six days a week to get to this spot. I think that us winning states will invite new people on the team because they know that they are joining a good team who doesn’t mess around,” said Samuels.

The P-CEP Perspective would like to congratulate Shane Rusinek, Ryan Gonyea, Josh Hall, Alex Mattson, Mitchell Rusinek, Brendan Kwapis and Noah Samuels on becoming 2017 MHSAA State Champions. Go Rocks!