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By JOEL COLEMAN
Normally this time of year, it's the Starkville High basketball teams making noise.
Now in their fifth year of existence, the SHS bowling squads are ready to start making headlines themselves.
Under the direction of head coach Jim Philamlee and assistant Cindy Prewitt, the Yellowjacket and Lady Jacket bowlers began their 2010-11 season on Nov. 18, competing in the North Division of the Mississippi High School Activities Association's Class II.
The team practices and hosts their home meets at Bulldog Lanes.
"We have more kids out this year than we've ever had," said Philamlee, who is now an official SHS staff member after spending previous seasons as strictly the team's lane coach. "I think (being a staff member) has maybe caused a little more interest because now, the coach for Starkville bowling has a better line of communication than ever."
Starkville High isn't the only school with a budding interest in bowling. Philamlee says the sport is "the fastest growing high school sport in America" and believes the state of Mississippi could have as many as 100 prep bowling teams five years from now.
"One of the reasons for (the growth of bowling) is the pros are really trying to advocate this," said Philamlee. "Bowling got started in a back alley and that whole sort of thing kept it out of the Olympics. The pro bowlers are really trying to get that changed and have been working at it for quite a while. That's one of the reasons this high school thing is starting to go is because the pros are promoting it."
After surviving tryouts earlier this year, 24 members currently make up the Starkville team and includes the boys varsity, boys junior varsity and girls varsity groups.
"You can't keep everybody," said Philamlee. "Only eight can be on a team. We play six on a team and have two subs."
Philamlee, a bowling veteran with more than 50 years of experience in the sport, says he has enjoyed being a part of teaching the game he loves to a new generation.
"Everybody has their own style," said Philamlee. "But there is some basic stuff that everybody needs to do. What I do is I teach things the easiest way. I'm 76-years-old, so if I didn't bowl the easiest way, I wouldn't be able to bowl as good as I bowl by any means."
So far this year, the varsity boys have especially taken Philamlee's teaching and ran with it, tallying 14 and a half wins and losing just a game and a half through two meets against East Webster and Kossuth.
The junior varsity Jackets sit at .500 with an 8-8 mark, while the girls have struggled, notching just one win.
"Every girl is new," said Philamlee. "Five of the six (varsity) boys, this is their third year. Two of the JV boys, this is their second year. I'd be surprised if the (varsity boys) don't win the State Tournament year after next if they all stay together."
For now though, the Jackets are focused on this season alone, a slate that will continue on Jan. 6 against Kossuth in Corinth.
The regular season will run through Feb. 5, with the Regional Tournament on Feb. 12 and the State Tournament on Feb. 26.
Members of the Starkville High bowling team include seniors Stephen Gunter, Adam Hayes, Jamie Kilgore, Arbriuna Martin, Quavasha Harris and Rhonda Brooks; juniors Rob Montgomery, Dalvin Tate, Antonio Owens, Chris Cosby, Elizabeth Valdes and Jamie Howard; sophomores Jalen Catledge and Mariah Newman; freshmen Daniel Montgomery, Brandon Le, Raymond Lee and Shonda Jeff; eighth grader Hugh Stone and seventh graders Cody Prewitt, Patrick Bell, Ethan Tucker, Miyah Amos and Deyszjah Robinson.