ST. CLAIRSVILLE - A pair of St. Clairsville High School bowlers will be helping Muskingum University set the foundation for its newly established athletic program.
Anthony Kolakowski and Summer Stephens will be members of the second bowling team at the New Concord-based institution. Albeit a club sport, the Muskies compete in the American Heritage Intercollegiate Bowling Conference which encompasses schools in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.
St. Clairsville High School bowling coach Mike Heath is pleased to have two of his student-athletes continue their careers.
"I'm very excited to see some of my bowlers moving on to the next level," he said. "Anthony was a solid kid for us this past season. He took advantage of his opportunity to start and made the most of it. He finished third on the team in average (187.6) and garnered first team all-conference honors.
"I'm sure under the direction of Coach Smith and his staff that Anthony will grow to be a fine asset for the Muskies.
"Summer is a very raw talent that has yet to scratch the surface of her ability," Heath continued. "She managed a 133.7 average this season, which was good enough for second on the team and earned her all-conference. Her average isn't really indicative of her ability and I'm sure the coaches at Muskingum can greatly improve her game."
The formation of the team has been in the plans for quite some time.
"I had tried for several years to get Muskingum University to start a bowling program," head coach Doug Smith, who also serves as the head bowling coach at Zanesville High School, said. "I wanted local students to have the opportunity to continue their education and keep bowling.
"I used bowling to draw them in and motivate them to get their education."
Smith said being the head coach at Zanesville High School has allowed him some trips to St. Clair Lanes in St. Clairsville.
"We look all over the state for bowlers but I was aware of the talent in the Ohio Valley because of my trips to the area," Smith added.
The inaugural MU bowling team had a dozen members.
The Muskies lost three to graduation, but Smith said he is expecting about 22 new prospects this season.
"We put a lot of emphasis on having fun," Smith noted. "Winning was never an objective. Our only objective was to get better as the season went along, and I think we did that for the most part.
"Some of the team members had never bowled competitively. So we were starting out on the ground floor and working our way up."
College bowling is different than high school, according to Smith.
"The AHIBC has 24 teams and we are the only Ohio Athletic Conference school to field a team," he explained. "It takes at least six men's and four women's teams to have a match. Some times there can be as many as 35 to 40 schools at a match."
Muskingum competes against the likes of The Ohio State University, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana, Cincinnati, Urbana, Wright State, Kent State, Bowling Green, Louisville and Saginaw Valley State to just name a few.