Prep bowling: Ishpeming senior Guckenberg wins U.P. boys title

MARQUETTE – In a nod to the Smuckers TV commercials of yore, with a name like Guckenberg, he has to be good.

The Ishpeming bowler excelled at the Upper Peninsula Bowling Conference boys singles finals at Superior Lanes in Marquette on Saturday.

The Hematites senior made up for the disappointment of last year when he rolled solidly in qualifying, then patiently picked his way through four knockout matches to emerge as champion in his senior season.

He clinched the championship with a two-game, 403-357 victory over defending champion and teammate Andrew Maki.

It came just a year after a bad final game during qualifying stopped Guckenberg just short of making the match-play round that four of his teammates, including Maki, qualified for.

“I’d have to say it was redemption. I was shocked when I didn’t make it last year. I was really upset,” Guckenberg said.

“This year, I’m just taking it one shot at a time. You want to make sure you concentrate on every shot.

“I’ve never really been into the singles as much as team bowling, but I still wanted to do as well as I could.”

He and other UPBC bowlers get a shot at team bowling on Saturday when Red Rock Lanes in Ishpeming hosts the team finals, the girls going at 11 a.m. and the boys at 3 p.m.

Guckenberg rolled the seventh-best qualifying score for the opening six games, about 75 pins ahead of the 16th-place cutoff and nearly the same number of pins behind No. 1 qualifier and senior teammate Austin Wilkins.

Guckenberg averaged a modest 182.5, rolling one game better than 200 and none below 150, though his last two were his lowest.

“It was getting to be a struggle, but redressing the lanes helped me out,” he said about organizers replacing the original oil pattern before match play started. “It let me sit down, take a drink of water and think about what my game plan was going to be.”

The biggest difficulty he said he faced after that was having to go up against two of his teammates in match play, which is a testament to the strength of the program that also includes Negaunee High School.

A total of 72 bowlers from eight U.P. programs took to Superior Lanes, with the field cut to the top 36 after three games of qualifying, then to 16 after six games. Ten of those 16 were from area schools.

Four I-N bowlers made the 16-boy cut, Wilkins at No. 1 with 1,169, senior Matt Kilberg second with 1,164, Guckenberg seventh with 1,095 and Maki, a sophomore, eighth with 1,075.

Marquette also moved four bowlers onto match play. The most amazing story had to be of Drew Scott, who had to win a rolloff to make the top-36 cut but moved all the way up to fifth by shooting 670 his final three games for a 1,112 total.

Teammate Brandon Young was fourth with 1,114, Trevor Buchanan ninth with 1,067 and Jesse Bianchi 12th with 1,046.

Two L’Anse boys also advanced, Freddy Dakota 11th with 1,055 and Tucker Hemmila 15th with 1,022.

Westwood’s top finisher was Tanner Giroux, 29th with 911, while the top area bowler to miss the cut was Caleb Kaznowski of Marquette, 20th with 990, 30 pins short of the cut.

In the opening round of match play, Guckenberg slipped past Dakota Klatt of Menominee, 385-360; Wilkins outmatched Johnny Kositzky of Escanaba, 391-309; Kilberg dropped Hemmila, 390-319; Young downed Steven Koehler of Iron Mountain, 345-273; Scott held off teammate Bianchi, 335-303; Maki bested Buchanan, 368-285; and Eric Cousineau of Escanaba nipped Dakota, 339-337.

The second round featured three matches between teammates. Guckenberg beat Kilberg, 387-353; Maki outscored Wilkins, 441-395; and Scott slipped past Young, 336-327.

In the semifinals, Guckenberg bounced Mitchell Bourgeois of Menominee, 367-346; and Maki scrambled past Scott, 368-301.

Then in the finals, Guckenberg actually lost the first game to Maki, 189-183, before coming back for his best game of the day in a 220-168 win for the 46-pin victory.