February has been a learning curve for FHC bowling


Senior Joshua Allen stretches out for a massive strike.

Up to this point in the season, the boys and girls FHC bowling teams have run three laps out of four around the track. Those three grueling laps have been filled with disappointing losses and nail-biting moments. From their archrival Forest Hills Northern in lane three to their dominant foe in lane one, Northview, the bowlers in green and white have yet to catch up to the rest of the pack 200 yards ahead. All the way back in lane eight, the Rangers sputtered early in the season in their first matchup against Forest Hills Northern back on January 25th.

“We came into the season with some experienced varsity bowlers on the boys side, but the girls team returned zero varsity members, so you could say they were pretty young,” head coach Terry Metzner said. “Right off the bat, we just focused on working hard at practice and nailing down the important fundamentals of bowling.”

By the end of the first lap, the inexperienced girls team sucked in air and got a taste of what varsity bowling is all about, while the upperclassmen-led boys team ate the dust of other teams ahead of them, as they were caught off guard by the first lap surge of powerhouses like Northview and Byron Center. Three-year varsity bowler, senior Tommie Payne, argued that the first lap jitters played a substantial role in FHC’s slow start to the season.

“I think we have a ton of talent on our team this year, but COVID kind of hurt our preparation for this year,” Tommie explained. “Some of the guys on our team—including me—weren’t necessarily ready for the rigors of this bowling season.”

Rounding the home stretch on their first lap, the Rangers still weren’t able to find that switch to catapult them ahead of others farther ahead who already rounded first before them. Sophomore Peyton Price’s score of 244 on East Grand Rapids’s home turf, Clique Lanes, and freshman Megan Hackerd’s 135 at Northfield Lanes against Northview kept both teams above water for the time being.

“I know both teams were struggling to find positives to build on through the first few matches,” Megan noted, “but I also know that both teams played really challenging opponents.”

Anchored by juniors Joey Spaletto and Zach Guikema, the boys team sprinted to catch up with the leader’s pack, as they almost pulled off a massive upset versus the Red Arrows of Lowell on February 15th, at Hillcrest Lanes. To add to the boy’s triumphant effort to make up ground on lap two, freshman Skyler Tierney forced the issue with a 107 bonanza to try to fend off the lady Husky bowlers from Northern.

“As I have said before, the Lowell match was easily the boys team’s most complete and best match so far,” coach Metzner said. “The boys lost a close game by two points [16-14], and the girls lost a difficult one, 30-0.”

Even though lap two was considered a success by coach Metzner, lap three was a totally different story. Usually, a four-lap mile isn’t won in the first two laps, so he was more than excited to see how the boys and girls would perform with their season on the line. Lap three, a lap that separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls, elicited the same reaction when someone loses a twenty-dollar bill; however, its difficulty bred remarkable individual success that ventured outside the gates of baker games. A few of those impressive solo performances included freshman Mary Kate Dean’s two 111 performances on one night, followed by a Joshua Allen 216. 

“If we put together our individual game success with better baker games, then our win column would look a lot different,” coach Metzner said. “No matter how hard the boys and girls try, they just can’t seem to translate individual success to the baker games.”

Yesterday, March 1st, the boys team ran the last straightaway to cap off their third lap. Although most of their lap three performances left more to be desired, the boys garnered a respectable nine points to combat Nort’s 21. Considering Northview’s high status in and around West Michigan, a 12-point differential isn’t too bad. Following their baker game trend all year, the boys struggled early to put up points in the baker game rounds.

“The boys started out really well in their two baker game rounds, but they had some issues finishing them like I know they can,” coach Metzner explained. “We’re still just working on getting better.”

Regardless of their baker game performance, sophomore Peyton Price notched a 203 to win his crucial individual game. During Peyton’s assertive play, freshman Mary Kate Dean strapped the ailing girls team onto her back and racked up a 120 on the day to help cushion their 28-2 blow.

Since the gun was fired on January 25th to signify the start of the race, the first three laps have been dominated by Northview, East Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Christian, Lowell, and Greenville. Four of the five teams just named as the head honchos of the 2020-2021 race are slated to play coach Terry Metzner’s FHC bowlers in the last lap of the season. In order to make up the lost ground, key players like Tommie Payne and Mary Kate Dean will need to lead their teams to significant baker and individual game wins to anchor a colossal comeback on the last leg of the race. No matter what the score reads, FHC’s only answer to their upcoming opponents has to be courtesy of bad boy Pete Weber’s legendary quote: “who do you think you are? I am!”