Thursday | November 23, 2017
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Bowling: Hilo resurrects preseason tournament, though there is a twist

The bowling scene in Hilo remains dormant, but that’s not stopping coach Damien Chow from reviving Hilo High’s preseason tournament.

The Vikings will just have to put in some driving time to get there.

It’s been four years in the waiting, but better late than never for the 14th edition of Hilo’s classic, which goes off at 9 a.m. Saturday at KBXtreme in Kailua-Kona, giving the Vikings a chance at a rare true-blue practice session.

“Right now, there aren’t any junior bowlers,” Chow said. “Everybody is fresh off the boat. Unfortunately, no regular bowlers.”

Chow has been getting creative with his girls and boys teams ever since Hilo Lanes closed in the spring of 2014. When the Vikings aren’t trekking to Volcano to use the lanes at KMC, they watch film in the classroom or try to provide a makeshift bowling experience at the school’s old gym.

“We really have to improvise,” Chow said. “Old school. It’s challenging, but it’s fun.

“Especially for the Hilo kids, this will give them something to do before the season.”

BIIF brethren, Konawaena, Kealakehe, and Kamehameha also will participate in the tournament.

Chow invited ILH schools as well, but they declined, Chow said, because the HHSAA tournament is on Kauai this year, significantly eating into travel budgets.

When BIIF play shifted full-time to Kailua-Kona, so too did the balance of power. Kealakehe and Konawaena have won the majority of the team titles and produced most of the individual champions the past three seasons, but Kamehameha’s boys broke through in 2016.

Hilo’s boys roster is a seven strong, with four girls, one shy of being able to compete for a team title.

Chow said the BIIF would be a five-team league, with Ka’u once again competing during the regular season.

He’s optimistic that a multipurpose bowling alley, similar in nature to KBXtreme, will be built in Hilo someday, and he’s confident the community can support it.

“It might take a couple of years, but I have a strong feeling,” Chow said. “If they make it like Kona bowl, with a local restaurant, large music area, and a sports bar, that will work.”

Until then, Chow is content to travel.

”I watch how the kids respond,” he said. “As long as they do, we will try to build our teams.”


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