Senior Mark Livingston helps Freeport bowlers strike first, strike hard

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Monday, January 25, 2021 | 6:35 PM


Last season, Mark Livingston punched his ticket to the state bowling championships with an 11th-place finish in the qualifying round at the Western Regional singles event.

The Freeport senior collected 1,000 pins over five games and finished with a high of 243. He went on to make the semifinals of the stepladder finals, falling to eventual champion, Norwin’s CJ Turek.

But covid-19 turned out the lights on the high school season before the state tournament could be contested.

Despite that, Livingston has turned his focus to this year and what can be accomplished both individually and with his team.

He currently leads all WPIBL bowlers in scoring average at 233 a game over 18 games and has helped the Yellowjackets boys to a 5-1 record.

“I think I am bowling pretty well right now, but there are always small things I can work on,” said Livingston, who leads Apollo-Ridge junior Kaleb Mulkey by 15 pins for the top spot in average for the boys Northeast section. “I don’t want to get complacent.”

Livingston tossed a season-best game of 279 in Freeport’s 5-2 win over Franklin Regional. He struck through the first eight frames, spared the ninth and then tallied three 10th-frame strikes to finish off the game.

“There definitely was some excitement building around me throughout the game, but you have to kind of ignore it and focus on the game,” said Livingston, who owns four perfect 300 games in his competitive career, the most recent coming in a junior league tournament last winter.

“I couldn’t afford to get distracted by it. I just wanted to throw the next shot the best I could and see what happened.”

Livingston was on fire against St. Joseph on Jan. 15 as he threw games of 257, 257 and 235 for a season-high 749 series.

“Mark is bowling at a really high level right now,” said Tom Livingston, Mark’s father and Freeport’s coach. “Knowing your equipment is a big part of this game, and he is always making sure he’s prepared.”

The senior-laden Freeport boys team, Mark Livingston said, is finding its groove in section play. Senior Issiac Spencer rolled series of 678 and 605 last week to up his average 11 pins to 191.67. His struck through the first seven frames of his opening game against Franklin Regional en route to a season-best 240 score.

Fellow senior Blake Olson bumped his average up 10 pins to 188.94. He rolled a 678 series against Apollo-Ridge with a season-best 279 game.

Seniors Tyler Williams and Ashton Guay have also helped the Freeport lineup shine in section play.

“Putting up high scores to help the team is pretty exciting right now,” Mark Livingston said. “It’s been a great team effort.”

Both Freeport teams were slated to take on Franklin Regional on Tuesday in a rescheduled section match, but with all Freeport athletic activities on pause through Tuesday, the match was postponed and has yet to be rescheduled.

The Yellowjackets will be on the bye Wednesday and Friday and face St. Joseph next Wednesday.

The Freeport girls are undefeated (6-0) in the Northeast section, and leading the way has been the consistent bowling of sophomore Julia Cummings, who owned a 209.8 average for 18 games through last week’s win over Franklin Regional.

Cummings, who averaged 194.67 through 30 section games last year and finished runner-up at the Western Regional, is second in the WPIBL in scoring average to dominant Burrell junior Lydia Flanagan (228).

Against the Panthers, Cummings rolled season highs of a 246 game and a 677 series.

She also was on point with consistency as she rolled a pair of 202s and a 200 in the Yellowjackets’ win over Apollo-Ridge on Tuesday.

“Julia is looking really good right now,” Tom Livingston said. “She’s another one who always puts in plenty of practice time, many days a week. She really sets the standard.”

Freshman Mackensie Livingston, Mark’s sister, owns a 180.44 average for 18 games, while seniors Amber Cepec and Samantha Lynn check in with averages of 171.11 and 169.33, respectively.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael by email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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