Bowlers mix it up
Prep rollers, top adults join forces for unique tournament
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH Eagle River’s Ron Mohr, the reigning Senior Professional Bowler Association’s Player of the Year, lets go of a shot during the All Mixed Up Baker tournament on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Eagle River Bowl. The tournament paired high school bowers with top adult bowlers from the Anchorage area.
STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH
Tyler Kearney would love to become a professional bowler someday. So the Barlett High bowler can be excused for acting a bit excited when she was teamed up with two-time Senior Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year Ron Mohr during a unique bowling tournament at Eagle River Bowl on Thursday, Dec. 8.
“I was like, ‘I’m bowling with someone famous!’” said Kearney, a senior. “I felt kinda special.”
The “All Mixed Up” Baker-format tournament combined high schoolers from the Anchorage Scholastic Bowling League with some of the top adults in the area for a just-for-fun event that ASBL commissioner Mike Frost said was designed to bring the area’s bowling community closer together.
“I’m one of those people who likes to break down barriers,” Frost said.
In addition to being paired with adults, the bowers were also mixed up by school and gender. That meant players who normally bowl against each other got to join forces and team up for a common cause.
“Most of the time it’s school against school,” Frost said. “We wanted this to be different.”
Although Eagle River’s Mohr — who recently returned home after winning four times on tour and making nine televised finals — was the big draw, Frost said all of the adult bowlers were top-notch rollers with 200-plus averages.
“We picked the best of the best,” he said.
In the end, the team of Chugiak’s Matthew Remer, Eagle River’s Amanda Nowicki, East’s Taylor Schoeni, West’s Christina Atta-Darkwah and adult Doug Robinson were crowned the champions. But judging by the smiles and high-fives exchanged by all competitors, winning wasn’t really the point of the tournament.
“You get to know people you didn’t know before,” said Eagle River High’s Hunter Littlefield, who paired with his Wolves teammate Destinie Rainer, South’s Billy Comer, Service’s Ashley Echternacht and adult Andy Morton to place third.
Frost said the purpose of the tournament was both to build camaraderie among bowlers and help bridge the gap between the current and future stars of the sport. He said many prep bowlers drift away from the sport after high school.
“A lot of high school bowlers bowl here and then they’re gone,” he said.
By showing the youngsters that bowling can be a lifelong pursuit, Eagle River coach Lynn Kocher said the league hopes more will join leagues once they’ve left for college and beyond.
“You can do this for the rest of your life,” Kocher said.
After watching how bowlers from across the high school landscape teamed up together, Frost said he felt the tournament was an unqualified success.
“I saw all these kids interacting over school lines,” he said. “This gave them an opportunity to mix in together.”
Although the tournament was an optional event, Frost said a majority of ASBL bowlers turned out for the event. And after word spreads about how much fun it was, he said he thinks the Mixed Up tournament will become a fixture on the prep calendar.
“I’m guessing we’re going to fill the house next year,” he said.
As for Tyler Kearney and her professional partner, Mohr’s team came up short in the finals. But the Bartlett bowler said just getting to team up with a pro was a big enough prize. She said Mohr offered both helpful tips and encouragement throughout the event, making the tournament both fun and educational.
“One day I wish I could be like him,” she said.
And although they didn’t take home a trophy, she said Mohr’s always-positive attitude showed her that having a good time isn’t always a matter of how many pins end up hitting the floor.
“He just wanted to have fun,” she said.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org