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Vandercook Lake High School Bowler Korey Reichard (photos by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports)

By Jeff Steers

JTV Sports

Two cousins who have bowled with one another for nearly 16 years continue to lead the successful Vandercook Lake High School boys’ bowling team.

Seniors Korey Reichard and Conner Lackey won a Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 4 state title two years ago, have been all-state all three years, and have enjoyed success as individuals.

But the clock is running down for the duo that has defined success at VCL in boys’ bowling.

Reichard and Lackey have dominated local area tournaments.

“On any given day, either one of us can win local tournaments,” Lackey said. “It just depends on who is hot that day.”

Case in point during a match against Napoleon High School Saturday, Lackey rolled a 259 only to have Reichard earn a 299 in the next game.

They are joined this year by a third cousin – Lackey’s brother, Camren.

“Cam knew how important this senior season was for Korey and I,” Lackey said. “He is more of a baseball player, but has steadily improved his bowling average from the 130s to 190s.”

With other freshmen and sophomores on the team, Reichard and Conner Lackey are the leaders of the Jayhawks.

They have been the statistical leaders for the Jayhawks for the past three-plus seasons.

In the beginning

Vandercook Lake High School Bowler Conner Lackey

Both high school seniors chuckle when they think about their first experiences together on the bowling lanes.

“We were 2 years old at Summit Lanes playing bumper bowl,” Reichard said. “Both of us used a Mickey Mouse spare bowling ball.”

Both showed potential as youth bowlers.

Reichard rolled an 800 series as a 10-year-old boy and for a short time was considered the youngest to obtain that score in the United States.

Lackey simply enjoyed the game and the challenge that came with it.

“Conner wouldn’t be disappointed if he had a hard split as a youth bowler,” current VCL bowling Coach Libie Ambs. “He would go right into calculating ball speed and ball position in order to cover the hardest spare possible.

“It was like he was an Albert Einstein … but you could see the love of the game even at a young age.”

Reichard is more of a laid-back bowler who simply smiles after most shots. Ambs calls him the Clark Kent of bowling – mild-mannered most of the time.

She recalls when Reichard turned into Superman during the 2017 Division 4 state championship run.

“We just rolled a 290 Baker Game and Korey turned around fired up with a big yell,” Ambs said.” You could tell that he was fired up and wouldn’t be denied.”

High school success

Both Reichard and Lackey has been all-state all three years – as voted on by the Michigan High School Bowling Coaches Association. Lackey was a second-team bowler as a freshman and first team in his sophomore and junior season.

Reichard is a first-team bowler all three years and has been a state individual qualifier all three seasons. He advanced to the elite eight as a freshman and junior. Reichard’s best chance to win an individual title was in 2017.

“The state individual final is such a mental and physical test,” Lackey said. “Korey ripped his thumb wide open in the semifinal round two years ago.”

Reichard said the qualifying round and the match play rounds are “two separate tournaments.”

Both hope to advance to the stepladder portion of the Michigan High School Athletic Association state individual tournament in March.

Lackey – who is averaging 227 this season – said he will sign to bowl at Concordia College on Jan. 21 – his birthday.

Reichard, who has a 240 average this season, is undecided where he would like to bowl in college.

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