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Men’s Bowling Team Headed to Nationals

March 31, 2021

Men's Bowling Team

Schoolcraft College’s men’s bowling team was determined to do better this year.

Did they ever!

The Ocelots earned a trip to the upcoming NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) Men’s Bowling Championships by winning the MCCAA (Michigan Community College Athletic Association) title by 450 pins over Jackson College.

“The fact that the core of our team had all been there last year and knew what to expect and what it was going to take was huge and we used that to our advantage,” said coach Patrick Yelsik, who was named MCCAA and Region XII Coach of the Year. “We came up short last time, so the group was hungry and motivated not to let that happen again.”

Schoolcraft started well in singles competition, grabbing the lead and never looking back. Josh Allen, a freshman from Westland, and Alan Brown, a sophomore from Canton, were named to the All-MCCAA team.

The Ocelots entered the postseason on a roll, winning five straight tournaments, including their Home Invitational Tournament by nearly 500 pins.

“We were playing well, but knew that none of it meant anything if we didn’t come ready to play at Regionals,” Yelsik said.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit all sports hard, but bowling was especially affected because bowling centers were closed for a long period of time due to state restrictions. The Ocelots’ home lanes are Merri-Bowl Lanes in Livonia.

“Obviously it was a season unlike any other,” Yelsik said. “The biggest challenge was probably not having any sort of runway up to the start of our season. We weren’t able to do much of anything in the fall like we normally do and because of the restrictions that bowling alleys were under at the time; we weren’t able to even start practice until two weeks before our first tournament.”

This put an even greater onus on the players to be prepared, no matter the circumstances.

“We always talk about making sure we’re prepared for anything at any time and to be able to adjust and adapt on the fly and the team did a great job of that,” Yelsik said.

Although the bowlers still have a few more pins to knock down at the national meet, which starts Wednesday, April 7, in Lansing, Yelsik took a moment to reflect on the great season so far.

“Some people say that no matter what happens this year, not just with us but in at any sport at any level, and that any achievements should come with an asterisk because of the circumstances that they were played under,” he said. “And that’s fine. But my opinion is that it was so much harder this year than any other year to accomplish what we did that it means even more now than in a ‘normal’ year.

“All the dedication and discipline that it took to navigate through the unknowns and uncertainties is what makes these young men and women special, not the amount of pins that they were able to knock down.”

Here’s a look at the men’s team:

Josh Allen – Freshman, Westland (Great Lakes Virtual Academy)
Area of Study: Information Science & Programming
Coach Yelsik says: Josh didn’t bowl competitively in high school but played in various tournaments and leagues and is one of the top performers on the team with a 196 average. He finished fourth overall in the Individual All-Events Competition at Regionals. He loves re-watching the “Breaking Bad” series.

Alan Brown – Sophomore, Canton (Plymouth High School)
Area of Study: Undecided/General Studies
Coach Yelsik says: Alan shot a perfect 300-game in high school competition. He finished second in the Individual All-Events Competition at Regionals and averaged a 197 on the season. At 6-6, he is constantly asked if he is also on the Schoolcraft basketball team.

Tyler Brown – Sophomore, Canton (Westland John Glenn High School)
Area of Study: Undecided/General Studies
Coach Yelsik says: Tyler shot the first in-competition 300 game in Schoolcraft’s 17-year varsity bowling history back on March 5 in Mt. Pleasant. It was also the first perfect game in the MCCAA Conference since it adopted bowling as a varsity sport back in 2015. Tyler led the conference this season with a 209 average.

Erik Bunge – Sophomore, Canton (Plymouth High School)
Area of Study: Electronics Technology
Coach Yelsik says: Erik probably has some of the highest ball speed of anyone that I’ve ever coached, so his pin action is pretty crazy. He certainly keeps the lane mechanics busy! Erik also works at the Schoolcraft Fitness Center and is an Eagle Scout of America.

Daniel Janssen – Sophomore, Dearborn Heights (Crestwood High School)
Area of Study: Game Design
Coach Yelsik says: Daniel is a returner from last year’s team that had multiple 200+ games at our Home Tournament! He is also a high school Crew Coach and owns over 270 PC games.

Jim Knorp – Sophomore, Livonia (Stevenson High School)
Area of Study: Sports Management
Coach Yelsik says: Jimmy bowled his first 300 game at the age of 16 and he is also a competitive Wiffle ball player! He bowled the high game at the Schoolcraft Invitational for the second year in a row and was one of the top scorers in the MCCAA Conference this season with a 196 average.

Tre Lamar – Freshman, Ypsilanti (Livonia Churchill High School)
Area of Study: Business Communications
Coach Yelsik says: Tre is one of the hardest workers on the team – he went from someone last year that I thought was a borderline college player to one of our best and most consistent performers. He has been bowling for over 16 years. He also likes pro basketball and video games.     

Nick Samaan – Freshman, Livonia (Stevenson High School)
Area of Study: Undecided/General Studies
Coach Yelsik says: Nick is always the first one at practice and the last one to leave; his work ethic and love for the game are second to none. He has a high game of 245 this year and was one of the top Baker’s game performers at Regionals. Nick also enjoys golfing.

Josh Richardson – Freshman, Belleville (Belleville High School)
Area of Study: Graphic Design
Coach Yelsik says: Josh is a two-handed bowler who qualified for Junior Golds in 2019 (prestigious youth bowling tournament). He routinely breaks the 200-game mark. He works at Planet Fitness and is a gamer who streams on Twitch.

Women advance

Three members of Schoolcraft College’s women’s bowling team qualified for nationals as individuals. Here are their bios:

Allison Little – Sophomore, Livonia (Churchill High School)
Area of Study: Mechanical Computer-Aided Design
Coach Yelsik says: This is the second consecutive season that Allison has qualified for the National Tournament! She was the top scorer on the team with a 161 average and placed ninth in the Individual All-Events Competition at Regionals. She also plays the tenor saxophone.

Julia Shroat – Freshman, Redord (Union High School)
Area of Study: Undecided/General Studies
Coach Yelsik says: Julia finished fifth at Regionals in the Individual All-Events Competition and averaged 159 during the season. Julia was a bowling state finalist in high school and she was also on the tennis team.

Madison Sharp – Freshman, Canton (Plymouth High School)
Area of Study: Pharmacy Technician
Coach Yelsik says: Madison is one of the best spare shooters on the team, so much so that she is also called the “ten-pin master.” Her strong Regional showing earned her an at-large spot at the National Tournament. She also enjoys listening to country music.