Bowling is more than a sport for Julia Skowron.
“It’s stress release,” the New Boston Huron senior said. “You can chuck the ball at the pins and they don’t talk back.”
During these trying times of a coronavirus pandemic, stress release is more important than ever.
So there was plenty of smiles and lots of joy as the high school winter sports season finally got started in the Monroe County with a pair of bowling matches Monday at Monroe Sport Center.
Video clip: Jefferson vs. Flat Rock Boys
For Flat Rock’s Katie Stull, it was a chance to put COVID-19 out of her mind for a few hours.
“It just felt normal,” she said. “This is probably the most normal thing that’s happened in my senior year.”
Huron swept St. Mary Catholic Central, winning the girls match 27-3 and the boys 30-0. Flat Rock took two from Jefferson with a 24-6 boys victory and a 25-5 girls triumph.
But the results were not as important on this day as simply getting a chance to compete.
“We’re just really glad to be back bowling,” said Josh Diulio, who coaches both the boys and girls teams for SMCC. “It’s just good to see them smiling and having fun.”
While boys and girls basketball, wrestling, hockey, and competitive cheerleading remain on pause because of restrictions put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, bowling and boys swimming are allowed to start this week because they are deemed as non-contact sports.
“It’s great,” Flat Rock boys coach Tony Kmiotek said. “I love the fact that the kids get to go bowling again. We’re lucky that we are one of the non-contact sports.”
No one felt luckier than than Skowron.
“It feels awesome, oh my God, it feels awesome,” she said. “I am so happy. I feel like a freshman again. We’ve been out for so long.”
The season has been pushed back several times because of state restrictions to battle COVID-19.
“You could see the kids were really pepped up to be out here,” Huron coach Larry Collins said. “We didn’t even know if we would have a season.”
Teams couldn’t even practice until last week.
“I was a little rusty,” said Logan Wyszynski, the anchor bowler for Huron’s boys. “We only had six practices. But it felt great.”
The lack of practice showed up on the lanes at times.
Skowron went from 121 in her first game to 221 in the second.
“That’s so embarrassing that I shot a 121 as a senior,” she said.
But she redeemed herself in the second game.
“Julia came out as a freshman as a brand new bowler,” Collins said. “Now, she’s one of our best.”
And bowling is her only sport in high school.
Marissa Martin was consistent for the Chiefs with games of 153 and 157.
“We’ve got a strong core of three seniors from last year’s state qualifying team,” Collins said.
Kylie Barron, who recently helped SMCC win a state volleyball championship, bowled anchor for the Kestrels and finished her day with a 167 game.
Wyszynski, a sophomore who had three older brothers who bowled for Huron, got his season off to a great start with games of 214 and 223. Ethan Steigerwald added a 208 as the Chiefs won their 37th consecutive dual meet.
Wyszynski and Steigerwald are the only starters back from last year’s team that placed third in the state in Division 2.
Flat Rock, which will bowl Huron at Flat Rock Lanes today in a key Huron League matchup, also was dominant in its opener.
Lead-off man Matt Tyra led the way for the boys with games of 169 and 183.
Stull shot 184 and 150 for the girls.
“I am glad the kids got to get back out and bowl,” girls coach Michelle Jackson said. “We are ready for some normal.”
Kristi Dyson, who also coaches Jefferson’s volleyball team, made her debut as a bowling coach.
“I thought the kids did really well,” she said. “We only got two practices last week.”