TRAVERSE CITY — Glen Lake coach Heather Oberstadt didn’t want to create any additional pressure on her team Friday in the Division 4 bowling regional at Lucky Jacks.
So, with the Lakers battling St. Ignace for the third and final qualifying spot in the girls’ team competition, Oberstadt kept the scores to herself.
“It was tight the entire day,” she said. “There was a lot of pressure (in the final game). But I didn’t tell the girls where they were. They had no clue the whole time. They just went up there and bowled their game and it worked out for us. The pressure was on me. I was the nervous one. They were fine.”
Led by junior Kary Pleva, the Great Northwest Conference individual champion, Glen Lake secured its first state finals berth by finishing third — 22 pins ahead of St. Ignace. Rogers City won its seventh consecutive girls regional title, rolling a 3208, 246 pins ahead of runner-up Ishpeming Westwood. The Patriots finished with a 2962. Glen Lake came in at 2731. The top three teams advance to the state finals next weekend at Battle Creek.
Rogers City also captured the boys title with a 3751. It was the fifth consecutive regional crown for the boys. L’Anse placed second at 3392 and Elk Rapids third at 3173. This will be the Elks first trip to the state boys finals.
“We’ve been close (in the past),” coach Ken Hicks said. “This is probably our best team.”
The Elks had to withstand a late challenge by Bellaire, which finished fourth at 3128. The Eagles gained 115 pins on the Elks in the final game to make it interesting.
Teams rolled six Baker games, followed by three regular games.
In the girls regional, Glen Lake trailed St. Ignace by 15 pins with just two games remaining. The Lakers then took a five-pin lead into the final game.
“These girls stuck together and pulled it out at the end,” Oberstadt said. “They bowled together as a team and did what they had to. And Kary was there when we needed her.”
Pleva rolled a 175 and 178 in her final two games. She carries a 140 average.
“I just stayed calm, looked at my mark and followed through,” she said. “It’s pretty cool (to qualify for states).”
Oberstadt, meanwhile, was in her element. She starred at Rogers City. The Hurons won the regional all four years when she was in high school. Obsertadt was the individual regional champion three of those years.
“It’s nice to come back here as a coach and make states again,” she said. “This is a huge accomplishment for us.”
Rogers City held just a 22-pin lead over Ishpeming Westwood after the six Baker games. That lead ballooned to 150 pins after the first regular game.
“That tells you about the team,” coach Brad Budnik said of the 246-pin win. “These girls have done an excellent job all year. This is a very strong team. We’re looking forward to next weekend.”
The Rogers City girls bowed out in the quarterfinals a year ago.
So did the boys, who put on an impressive display Friday.
“We have no seniors (on the boys team),” Budnik said. “We’re going to be strong next year, too.”
Elk Rapids has just one senior. The Elks seemingly had a firm grip on third with a 160-pin lead before Bellaire threatened in the final game to make it close — close enough that the Elks were not ready to celebrate until the results were made official.
“It feels like we had a nice buffer, but stranger things have happened,” junior Austin Wolfgram said. “Hopefully, we can hang on. We always seem to be right on the cusp.”
Wolfgram, who made news this winter by attaining a perfect ACT score, rolled a 210 in the first game — the game in which the Elks opened a gap on Bellaire. Wolfgram followed that up with games close to his 179 average.
“We’re overjoyed for the kids,” said assistant coach Deb Hicks. “They really wanted this. They’re great kids — that’s the important thing.”