Bowling team bounces back with one of the best seasons in past five years


Seniors Alex Souza and Ben Kastner came back for their last year for FHC Bowling as they looked to lead the Rangers to their first conference championship ever. They did not get to that goal, but they had one of their most successful years in the past half-decade.

“This was the most successful season I have had over the last five years,” head coach Grant Vermeer said. “In the past years, we were lucky to win more than one match.”

The main point of this season was to put a conference championship on the banner in the new gym. With Ben, Alex, and junior Tommy Payne coming back from last season and up-and-comer freshman Peyton Price joining the mix, the Rangers believed that they could reach their goal of a first conference championship ever with a team of this skill.

The first match of the season was the first test for the Rangers as they faced Northview, the top team in their conference and one of the top bowling teams in West Michigan. They struggled throughout the first game, and that hurt them. They would eventually lose this match 18-12, starting off their season with a bitter taste in their mouth.

“Losing to Northview in a close match set the tone for us for the rest of the season,” Vermeer said. “I knew that this season was different because we almost beat a great team in the first match of the season.”

After a bitter Northview loss to start the season, the Rangers went on a tear for the next 2 weeks, picking up big blowout wins against Cedar Springs and Ottawa Hills. These wins changed all of their momentum going into winter break, but unfortunately they went into a two-week break afterward.

After what felt like a long winter break for the Rangers, they would come back to only two practices before a match at Greenville, who has been a continuous problem for FHC as they have lost three of the past four meetings against the Yellow Jackets in the past two seasons. The Rangers put all of their heart and soul into this match, but it wasn’t enough as they lost each round in the second game and would end up losing by a combined 26 pins.

“Losing to Greenville, especially in a heartbreak fashion like this game, is hard to take in,” Vermeer said. “I wish we could face them one more time a year so we could at least redeem ourselves.”

After the Greenville match, the Rangers had a gauntlet of a schedule ahead of them with Northview, Ottawa Hills, and Lowell all in their next three matches. FHC fell to Northview for the second time this year with a score 20-10, but Vermeer was proud of the way they performed that day as they finished strong throughout game one and two. However, they fell in the all-important baker games and would go on to lose that match.

After a blowout win against Ottawa Hills two days after another loss to the hands of Northview, the Rangers would face a tough stretch of teams to end their regular season. The first match was a revenge game for FHC as they would face Lowell.

“We needed to start out strong by winning both baker games so we could set the pace for the rest of the match,” Senior Ben Kastner said. “But we couldn’t get it done in crunch time, and this hurt us in the end.”

The Rangers would lose yet again to Lowell 18-12 and would not fall off of the low point of their season as they would go on to lose their next two matches against Greenville and FHN. They would try and complete their season goal in their next match as they would travel to Rockford for their conference meet.

As the conference meet dawned on a cool and calm Saturday morning, the Rangers fought their hearts out for a conference title at Rockford Lanes.

“We beat the teams we set out to beat, but it wasn’t enough yet again as we couldn’t pull in our first conference title for FHC Bowling,” Senior Alex Souza said.

The Rangers would finish fourth in their conference meet, but it wouldn’t be enough to take home the conference title as Northview, the favorites to win their conference, would take home the title as they were riding all of the momentum into the regional round.

FHC came into the regional round of the bracket that weekend with a chip on their shoulder, looking for a regional championship both on the team side of the bracket and the individual side of the bracket. For the team round, they didn’t make it that far, and after 2 matches, they were eliminated from the playoffs. On the individual side of things however, Tommy, Alex, and Peyton all competed that day. Tommy and Alex were projected to go to the state finals all day until the last game of the day, as they both were eliminated by 12 pins and 32 pins each. 

“I hope that this season’s team will set the bar for how well we should perform next year, and hopefully we can win our first conference title ever,” Vermeer said.