Tecumseh's McKowen earns state bowling championship
All eyes were on Tecumseh High School’s (THS) two time defending state singles bowling champion Jordan Richard at this year’s Division 2 MHSAA finals tournament in Waterford on Saturday, March 1, however it was another Indian who took home the title.
THS senior Lauren McKowen qualified fourth (1227) but advanced to the finals where she defeated Samantha Knight of Richland Gull Lake 388-386 (174-214, 177-209) in the championship round. Knight had qualified 11th (1150) behind the number one and two seeds from Tecumseh, Jordan (1356) and Hailey (1312) Richard.
McKowen said that she was able to stay focused on the task at hand because it’s something her and her coaches, Ken Richard and her father Doug McKowen, have talked about for years.
“The thing that me and my dad, and coach Kenny, have always talked about is you have to take it step by step, and that’s what we did,” she said. “Whether your first place or last place, if you take it step by step you all have the same shot at the title. Doesn’t matter if you are fourth or last, you’re all the same.”
The top sixteen bowlers based on total pinfall after a six-game morning in the qualifying block advanced to the match play finals. The match games were two-game total pinfall.
As fate would have it McKowen had to face Jordan Richard, the defending state champ, in the semifinals. McKowen beat her teammate by 50 pins, 481-431 (216-265, 214-217) to advance to the final.
“It’s just horrible going up against a teammate,” Lauren said. “It’s the worst feeling ever.”
Lauren said she had tears running down her face going into the match against Jordan.
“She’s my friend first and foremost,” she said. “So going into it I said we go in as friends and hopefully come out as friends. If she were to win I’d go back in the bleachers and cheer for her. And if I were to win she’d go back and cheer for me. And that’s what happened. She supported me. That’s what friends do. That’s what teammates do.”
Hannah Ploof of Flint Kearsley defeated Haley Richard in the quarterfinals, 444-383 (231-213, 171-212).
McKowen advanced from the quarterfinals with a 441-337 (208-233, 160-177) victory over Katelynn Maxwell of Flint Kearsley while Jordan Richard beat Destiny Kennedy of Bay City John Glenn 455-431 (203-252, 229-202).
McKowen had struggled at times the day before in the team finals at the same location, Century Lanes in Waterford. Jordan Richard and the rest of the Indians consoled McKowen during the event and she broke from her slump and went on to help the Indians advance to the semifinal.
“Friday was just not what we wanted at all,” Lauren said. “We wanted it so bad Friday but what happened was we didn’t take out a ball that we should have. But Saturday we were like, ‘you know what. Let’s try it.’ And it ended up working all day.
“I wish I had a time machine to go back and scream ‘take this ball out.’”
The top eight teams advanced in the tournament based on total pinfall after eight Baker games and two regular games during the morning.
The qualifying block advanced to the afternoon match play finals. The match games were decided by total pinfall of one regular game and two Baker games.
Tecumseh qualified second (3389) as a team behind Flint Kearsley (3407) the eventual state champions, and went on to defeat Bay City John Glen 1211-1147 (166-163-882, 180-176-791) in the quarterfinals.
The Indians were unable to get past Bay City Western in the semifinals, losing 1281-1184 (177-178-926, 115-196-873) to end their season.
Flint Kearsley defeated Bay City Western 1267-1120 (246-168-853, 144-197-779) for the Division 2 state title.
Tecumseh’s boys also participated but qualified 14th (3134).
Despite the girl’s team’s loss, in the individual finals the bowlers remained as positive as possible with lots of support from other teammates, coaches, family and friends. On the flip side, it appeared that everyone else was out to get the Indians.
“Being ranked number one in the state coming in as a team just puts a target on your back and they gun for number one,” Lauren said. “It’s just what happens, always.”
Last year Lauren was eliminated in the singles semifinals by just one pin. She didn’t focus on that loss this year. Her sole goal was helping the Indians win a state team title and her preparation for the team helped her win the championship, she said.
“I went into team thinking this is it and I lost it completely. I don’t know if it was the ball and it was me at the same time, all of it mixed together.” Lauren said. “So I went in Saturday and said ‘what happens, happens. Just do my best. It’s my last high school event.”
Now that her high school bowling career is over Lauren will prepare for her next level of play. She said she’ll be heading to University of Central Missouri and be a teammate again with both Jordan and Haley Richard.
“I wound up falling in love with the campus,” she said of a visit to the university. “They have great academics for art, which is what I plan to go into, or design; and also their bowling. And the girls [Jordan and Haley Richard] are going there. I’m excited to travel with them again and we can be together. So, I’ll be attending that college next year.”