Milan finishes as state runner-up for both boys and girls in bowling

MILAN – Milan bowling coach Dawn Divert had high expectations heading into the 2023-24 season.

Divert’s bowlers didn’t disappoint.

Both wound up taking second in the state for Division 3.

The runner-up finish by the boys was not much of a surprise. The Big Reds entered the season ranked No. 3. The girls were unranked at the beginning of the season.

“I’m still in shock, still trying to process it because it’s school history,” Divert said. “Winning regionals then to go on to state, this season has been such a blast and I’ve really enjoyed the ride.”

It’s the first time since 2009 (Vandercook Lake) that a program had both a boys and a girls team in the state finals.

The boys team won their Division 3 regional title over Blissfield by 207 pins, while the girls won the regional title when they beat Adrian Madison by 604 pins.

Milan shows off its two state runner-up trophies in bowling. Pictured are (back row left to right) Dawn Divert, Adam Gilles, Elyse McClaran, Elli Haney, Maggie Smith, Gwen Jones, Ally Jones, Rachael Peladeau. Gabby Dryden, Linda Towler and Robert Hull and (front row left to right) Ryan Hullstrung, Jaidyn Fital, Clark Friese, Logan McClaran, Tyler Maravino, Max Jenness and Jem Carpenter.

“It’s not an easy thing to do,” Divert said pointing how many teams were vying for a state title.

In the boys bracket, 97 teams were competing across the state during regionals, while 96 squads were throwing for a top 16 position and a ticket to the next round.

Last year, Milan bowled in Division 2, but moved to Division 3 this year, which was part of the reason for Divert’s high hopes for the season.

More: Milan bowlers are state runners-up

More: New Boston Huron, Milan capture regional titles

“I knew we were going to have some real success last spring when I found out we got moved to D3. We did good against D2 teams so we knew the move would be beneficial,” Divert said.

Moving divisions wasn’t the only reason though – both Big Reds squads were returned the bulk of their core. The boys’ team lost just three seniors from a year ago and the girls didn’t suffer a single loss from the previous season.

That familiarity amongst teammates was the heart of their success.

“There is such tightness, a closeness this team has. They grew up together,” Divert said. “When you have that, you learn how each other throw and it allows you to grow.”

Max Jenness, co-captain for the boys, echoed the words of his coach.

Milan's girls bowling team huddles before the state finas.
Milan's girls bowling team huddles before the state finas.

“We’re all friends outside of bowling, so we know each other really well and when you know how each other think it allows us to help each other,” he said.

The junior also excelled in the singles at regionals, qualifying with a score of 1,343. He was joined by teammates Clark Friese (third) and Jem Carpenter (seventh).

“He shined all season long, he wasn’t afraid to say ‘Hey, let’s put someone else in,’ if he thought they had an advantage. He is such a morale boost,” Divert said.

The girls also had singles success at regionals. Maggie Smith was first with a qualifying score of 1,361. Smith edged out her teammate Rachel Peladeau, who scored 1,132 to finish second, while Ellie Haney finished seventh.

Smith is Milan’s anchor bowler and has the highest average on the team (192).

“My team has the best support system that brought us together not only as a team, but helped our mental game,” she said. “Bowling is not only physical, but also mental because there’s a lot to think about.”

The girls’ team will graduate four seniors: Gabby Dryden, Ally Jones, Gwen Jones and Peladeau.

For Peladeau, it’s the team unity that will be her fondest memory.

“This team was so positive and uplifting and that attitude gets you somewhere,” she said. “At states I had a hard time, but it’s good to know you have people there for you.”

The boys will return their entire roster next season, including Jenness who is ready to push the program even higher.

“A few of my peers have been calling us a bowling school now,” he said. “So, I hope we can just keep going further in the future.”

This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: 'A bowling school': Milan boys, girls both take second in the state