Team Monroe sets state bowling tournament record

No one saw it coming.

Nick Walters, John Zureki, Jordan Killingback and Nataleigh Eagle all played poorly the day before at the same bowling center.

But it all clicked on a Sunday afternoon as the four friends of Monroe High set a state record. They shot 2,934 handicapped last month in the Mixed A division of the 39th Annual Michigan State USBC Youth Tournament in Westland.

Killingback believed the team had help from above as they played on his late father’s birthday.

Whatever the reason, everyone was on top of their game at the same time.

“We actually didn’t think we would get very far,” admitted Walters. “We haven’t played as well this year. We just put it all together.

Eagle, who entered the tournament averaging 169 games, shot 193, 198 and 235 for a streak of 626.

Walters was slightly below his average of 178 with a 163 in the opener, but followed with lines of 240 and 210 for a set of 613.

Zureki followed a similar scenario. He was 7 pins below average with a 172 in his first game. He finished with games of 221 and 213 for a 606.

Killingback, who averaged 170, has been hot all day with 205, 208 and 289 games for a 702.

The team improved with every game, shooting real lines of 733, 867 and 947.

“The first game we did pretty decent, nothing fancy,” Killingback said. “The second game, we did a lot better. After finishing the second game, I told my teammates that we have a good chance of winning if we start over. We didn’t just start over, we did a lot better.

“The first game, we did really well, so we felt confident in the second game,” Walters added. “After that I was like, ‘Wow, we can really do it and win.’”

Being longtime friends, the four knew how to calm down as the pressure mounted.

“We played a lot better as a team (event) because we were able to cheer each other on,” Eagle said. “There are always trashy comments. We try to get under each other’s skin. In this way, we are not only competing with everyone, but also with each other. “

By the end of the series, Zurcki knew the team had done something special.

“After I shot 947, I said, ‘There’s absolutely no way we haven’t broken a record,” he said. “A 900 game is insane for a team of four people.”

Zureki immediately checked the state registry and found he was right.

Zureki knows a thing or two about the state archives.

“My sister (Kendra) set a record in her division (Bantam girls) a few years ago,” he said.

Now two Zurekis are in the record books.

“I never tried to make one for him,” he said. “But it happened, so I’m cool with it. I don’t think anyone will beat us for long.

The team was formed because the four get along so well.

“It was more building a team of friends than building a team,” Killingack said. “John and I have always been friends. It was our last serious tournament together.

The big day of the state tournament took some of the spur of a disappointing school season for Walters, Killingback and Zureki.

“All year we have all struggled,” Zureki said. “It was the first year in four or five that we didn’t win the title for our division. It was a little shocking that we did so badly.

Eagle reached the state semifinals individually, but Monroe’s daughters have struggled this season as well.

“The high school season has been pretty tough,” she said. “Due to the corona (virus) we had a late start and we weren’t able to train as much as we normally do. During high school season, we all struggled pretty hard.

All four will receive a purse for their tournament victory, but the exact amount has not yet been announced.

And they might still have a chance to play together.

State winners normally qualify for the national tournament. It is not known whether or not that will happen this year due to the pandemic.

The four friends hope to be able to go.

“If we have a chance, we want to do it,” Zureki said.

“It would be amazing,” Eagle added.


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Tommy Dodd

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