OSCODA – High school athletics have looked vastly different, when they’ve been allowed to play, since the fall 2020 season began. The winter season has been delayed until the middle of January, and things are sure to be have a different look again. Bowling, is no exception as they anxiously await to see if there will in fact be a season.

“We are hoping we can start practice on the 16th (of January), that is when the MHSAA is going to let us start,” Tawas boys head coach Allen Miller said. “Our conference (Huron Shores Bowling Conference) is hoping to start on Jan. 23 so it will be a shortened season. They are going to extend regionals now until the middle of March (19th and 20th), so they moved that back a couple of weeks, just to allow us to get somewhat of a season in.” 

Complicating things further for the Braves is the fact that its home venue, Tawas Lanes hasn’t been open.

“The bowling alley could open, but there are so many restrictions on it, it is closed right now,” Miller said. “We could probably work around most of those restrictions other than the kids needing a drink of water during practice. Right now, there is no drink, you can’t even bring your own water, there is no food or anything and you have to wear a mask the whole time you are in the bowling alley.”

Miller went on to discuss other changes bowling teams will face this winter.

“Right now, they are saying there has to be an open lane in between everyone and nobody can touch another person’s ball,” he added. “We won’t be moving lanes like they have in the past, so they will have to stay in the same lanes, even in regionals. They have to wear a mask until they go up to the approach to bowl but as soon as they come back, they have to put it back up. We are hoping some things change by the 15th, it is going to be tough.” 

With these changes in mind, there are only two venues in the conference that have the capacity to hold the conference meets. This means conference action will only take place at Oscoda’s Vista Lanes and West Branch’s Hi-Skore Lanes this season. 

“We haven’t had contact with our team at all, since the kids just went back to school (Monday),” Miller said. “We start on the 16th and we bowl on the 23rd so that is not much practice. It will be a different kind of year.”

In recent seasons, Oscoda has been considered one of the top-tier programs. The boys team is annually in the top three teams in the league and the Lady Owls have won back-to-back league titles. 

“I’m not quite sure to be honest with you (if there will be a season), I am not even sure how many bowlers I am going to have,” Oscoda boys coach Sam Skandarsky said. “I just got an email saying that we should still be able to practice on the 16th, but that is not a guarantee either because (there is an announcement) on the 14th on what the new stipulations are going to be.” 

Skandarsky likes the fact that the team’s home lane will be used, and thinks the positives of only using two venues could be felt throughout the league.

“I think it will help out all the schools, switching back and fourth I think it is going to help out all the individuals and knowing how the lanes are going to be,” he said. 

When the season does start, the Owls are hoping to field competitive teams once again.

“I am hoping we will have a great season for the boys and the girls, we have pretty much the same girls as last year,” Skandarsky said. “I am guessing that Andrea Bickel can go pretty far like she did last year and I have a couple boys that I think can do the same thing. We are hoping that everything works out and they can start practicing on the 16th and bowl (the next week). It doesn’t give us a lot of time to get them prepared, but I think we will do OK because most of them already know how to bowl. We are looking forward to it to be honest with you, we just hope it opens up enough so that we can have a season.”

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