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Higgins’ State Championship is No. 1 Sports Story of 2015-16

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Olivetathletics.com is counting down the top 10 Olivet High School sports stories of 2015-16. Here is No. 1…

When it came to selecting the No. 1 Olivet High School sports story of the year, it really was a no-brainer.

In other words, it’s hard to beat a “state champion” – and those are the words that have described OHS junior Daniel Higgins ever since he placed first in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 Bowling Finals on March 5 at Airport Lanes in Jackson.

Higgins, a right-handed bowler, defeated Battle Creek Pennfield’s Bailey Neal, 404-340, in the championship match. He also won two-game matches against Warren Lincoln’s Tyler Kolassa, 377-363; Jonesville’s Jonah Boot, 395-387; and Birch Run’s Robbie McKinnon, 437-396.

“The most memorable moment of the state tournament was pulling away in the second game of the final match, where I threw six strikes in a row to seal the deal against a friend of mine (Neal),” Higgins said.

There is no question that Higgins got hot at the right time en route to OHS’s first state title since the softball team won in 2010. But he almost didn’t get an opportunity to show off his skill since he barely cleared the proverbial bar when qualifying at the regional and state levels.

Higgins filled the 10th and final qualifying spot at the regional tournament and was seeded 12th among 16 qualifiers following the preliminary round at the state meet. Once he got rolling, though, he knocked off the previous year’s state champion (Kolassa) and runner-up (Boot).

“I didn’t know (Kolassa) was the state champ until my dad told me after the second game,” Higgins recalled. “Then he went on to tell me that my next opponent (Boot) was last year’s runner-up. That match was nerve-racking because I recognized him from previous competitions outside of high school matches. I continued to beat him, but it was a challenge…coming back to win in the 10th frame of the second game.”

As a state champion with a year of eligibility remaining, Higgins knows there will be some pressure to defend his title in 2016-17. He is taking it in stride, however, just like he does in other aspects of his life.

“I want to continue to get better,” said Higgins, who also is a goalie on the Eagles’ soccer team and a member of the school’s golf squad that recently captured a Greater Lansing Activities Conference crown.

“My goal is to defend my state title, but I have to place higher in the regional tournament so I’m not biting my nails thinking ‘did I get in?’ The things I will work on are finishing strong and staying consistently good throughout the season.”

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