GLADWIN – What do you do for an encore when you are the defending state champions and undefeated in the conference? When you are a member of the Gladwin bowling team you shoot for a repeat. Expectations are always high for the Flying G’s and they embrace it. Gladwin will be good again this year, only time will tell how good.
When I talked to Kent Crawford a year ago on the eve of the 2018/19 season he knew he had a good team and was excited about their prospects. He didn’t mention anything about winning a state championship, but he has been around bowling long enough to know that his team was very good.
I got the same type of feeling talking to him this year. They lost several outstanding bowlers, but the cupboard is far from bare.
Gone are Tanner Mielke, Ryan Day, and Cody Roehrs three bowlers that Crawford described as “powerhouses.” Nobody is feeling sorry for Gladwin though as they return Ethan Weston, Tucker Roehrs, Ryan Hager, and Riley Dotson. Logan Priest is back after taking a year off and Zack McCummings decided to bowl this year. With all this talent Gladwin is capable of getting back to the top.
Gladwin seniors Ethan Weston and Tucker Roehrs described winning a state championship as something special. They are proud to have been a part of only the second state championship earned by a Gladwin County High School team. They both hope that their senior years will be “fun.”
Both have bowled most of their lives and love the sport. Roehrs mentioned that he plans to go into the welding field after high school. He is currently in his second year of taking CTE classes at Mid Michigan College. Weston plans to attend Mid Michigan College next year to study Accounting.
The girl’s team lost All Staters Mackenzie and Bailey Weston, but also returns a lot of talent. Kayla van Tiem, Mariah Walters, Katrina Worden and Brooke Last, all experienced bowlers, return for the Flying G’s. Female bowlers Kayla van Teim and Mariah Walters echoed the sentiments of the boys.
Both have had a lot of fun over the years and said that the social aspect of being on the team was their favorite part. Before each competition they commit to each other with a fancy handshake and some fun games. Their “strike train’ celebration has become famous.
Kayla has been bowling since she was four years old. She plans to do something in the medical field after college. She plans on attending Mid Michigan before transferring to complete her degree. This is Mariah’s third year on the high school team. She plans on going to Delta College for welding.
Something that shouldn’t be overlooked is the experienced Gladwin coaching staff. Crawford was the 2019 Division 3 Coach of the Year. Coaching along with Crawford are Dan Hager, Kevin van Tiem and Ray van Tiem. All four coaches have years of experience that they are willing to share with the young athletes. According to Crawford the key ingredients to improvement are determination and coachability. If an athlete is willing to work the Gladwin coaching staff has the knowledge to help them improve.
Gladwin opens its season this Saturday at Snowbird Lanes in Harrison. The boys will go first starting at 10 a.m. with the girls to follow at 1 p.m. Gladwin will also host two events at Meadow Lanes this season. The final regular season Jack Pine Conference Meet on Jan. 29, and the Jack Pine Singles Tourney on Feb. 8.
The also has a couple of special events on the calendar. On Dec. 27 they will be hosting a 10 Year Celebration. They will be inviting former bowlers and parents back for a night of fun at Meadow Lanes. They along with the Beaverton Bowling Team will be the beneficiaries on the January Knights of Columbus Fish Fry.
As they prepare for the season Crawford mentioned that he is “confident that they will be competitive.” I wouldn’t bet against them.