New league offers better competition for Niles bowlers

Published 4:27 pm Monday, February 8, 2021

NILES — After spending the first 10 years of its existence in the Southern Lake Michigan High School Bowling Association, Niles began looking to beef up the competition in order to prepare for the postseason.

“For the last few seasons, we kind of felt we needed more,” said Niles coach Jim Jaynes. “That conference was limited, and we wanted to face larger and better competition like we would see at regionals.”

With the help of Niles Athletic Director Jeff Upton, the Vikings found a new home this season in the Southwest Activities Conference. Niles will also compete in the Southern Lake Michigan Conference this year before it moves to the Wolverine Conference along with the rest of the Viking athletic teams starting next winter.

“They are all pretty much the same in the way they score and how you win matches,” Jaynes said. “The difference is seeing teams we would likely see in our regional tournament. The SAC and the Wolverine compete mostly throughout the week against one school. The SLMHS bowls on Saturdays in a dual-type meet, playing one school at say 10 a.m. and a different school at 2 p.m.”

Jaynes feels like the Saturday portion of their season will not happen due to COVID-19 as they are more like tournaments and would violate the participation numbers put forth by the state of Michigan and the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Teams currently in the SAC are Brandywine, Bronson, Burr Oak, Coloma, Comstock, Constantine, Gobles, Kalamazoo Hackett, Kalamazoo Christian, Martin, Parchment, Saugatuck and Schoolcraft.

When the Vikings join the Wolverine Conference next winter, the only schools that do not have bowling teams are Dowagiac and Edwardsburg. South Haven, now a member of the BCS Athletic Conference, has remained a member of the Wolverine in bowling.