Frankel Jewish Academy bowlers Andy Tukel, left, Aiden Schafer and Gabe Gordon watch teammate Eli Gordon bowl Feb. 24 during a match against Detroit Loyola at Langan's All Star Lanes in Walled Lake.
Frankel Jewish Academy bowlers Andy Tukel, left, Aiden Schafer and Gabe Gordon watch teammate Eli Gordon bowl Feb. 24 during a match against Detroit Loyola at Langan's All Star Lanes in Walled Lake. (Rick Dorn)

Frankel Jewish Academy’s boys bowling team has made the most of its opportunities to compete.

It’s been a strange season for the Frankel Jewish Academy boys bowling team.

Blame the strangeness and accompanying challenges on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The season started in late January instead of late last year. Masks are required for coaches and bowlers at practices and matches. There have been fewer practices than normal.

Teams keep to themselves at competitions and bowlers from different teams are spread out. No spectators have been allowed.

FJA’s home bowling center this season was Langan’s All Star Lanes in Walled Lake instead of Langan’s Nor-West Lanes in Farmington Hills because of limited hours at Nor-West Lanes.

Through it all, FJA has made the most of its opportunities to compete.

The Jaguars went 4-5 in Catholic League matches, but they posted a rare win over Madison Heights Bishop Foley. They were 5-5 overall, with one win against a Catholic League team counted as a non-league victory.

FJA didn’t compete in the Catholic League tournament Saturday, March 13, because of Shabbos, so next up for the Jaguars is the Division 4 regionals.

They’ll bowl along with 12 other teams Friday, March 19, at Ten Pin Alley in Tecumseh.

Each bowler at the regional can have one mask-wearing family member there as a spectator. And there’s more good news for FJA.

“There’s a different format this season for the regionals. That could benefit a couple of our guys,” said FJA coach Joe Bernstein.

Those guys Bernstein mentioned are Eli Gordon and Andy Tukel.

Bernstein considers Gordon and Tukel two of the top 20 bowlers in the regional, which means they have a decent chance of finishing in the top 10 in the singles standings and qualifying for the March 26-27 state tournament.

Normally team and singles regional competitions are held on back-to-back days. The Jaguars bowl on a Thursday and a Friday so they’re done before Shabbos.

This season, everything at the regional level is happening on one day, with bowlers rolling four games that count in both the team and singles standings.

“You can bowl upwards of 12 games in 16 hours over the two days at regionals. That’s a lot of bowling,” Bernstein said. “For those who don’t think bowling is an endurance sport, that can take a lot out of you.

“If Eli and Andy can bowl well in their four games (March 19) and get some luck, they have a good chance of qualifying for state.”

Gordon and Tukel are two of the three juniors on the FJA roster. The other junior is Charlie LaBelle. The Jaguars do not have any seniors on their team.

Sophomores Jacob Goodman, Gabe Gordon and Aidan Schaefer and freshmen Jonah Miller and Isaac Mougoue round out the FJA roster.

The eight FJA bowlers throw a lot of strikes and convert their share of spares in the classroom. They have a combined 3.8 grade-point average.

“I’m so glad we’ve gotten to bowl this season,” Bernstein said. “I’m sure it’s been a nice escape for the kids on our team, given them a sense of normalcy.

“I’m really excited about our future of our team. We have a lot of guys with talent. They just need some practice and experience.”

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