RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE — Brandon Sullivan lines up his shot, during a match against Pioneer. Photo by Dave DeLuca.
SPRINGVILLE — The Springville-Griffith Institute boys and girls bowling teams have begun their season. Seniors Nate Sopko, Andy Loop and Brandon Sullivan returned to the team, as did juniors Wyatt Sibiga and Kyle McCarthy. All five players have bowled together for the last four years.
“The experience on our boys team is a big plus for us,” said coach Kevin Farner. “Our top five guys [Sopko, Sibiga, Loop, Sullivan and McCarthy] have bowled together on the team for the last four seasons and are good at keeping each other settled down, when someone is having a rough match. They also help each other with adjusting to the ever-changing lane conditions.”
Farner added that he expects sophomore Alex Wendley to really turn some heads this season, after a strong offseason.
“I expect a big season out of Wendley,” said Farner. “He spent a lot of his own time working with me, this past summer, and I can see it paying off, already.”
Other boys who will contribute include senior Cam Taylor, junior Tucker Grimm, freshman Austin Coon, Zack Slippy, Daimen Skinner and Louis Davies. Eighth-grader Nick Abdo returns, after competing last season. Skinner had the highest game at the Erie County Interscholastic Conference roll-offs for Division C and will provide depth for Springville. Slippy is entering his third season on the team. The three-year player has led the team in high-game and high-series scores, multiple times, during that time frame.
“There are several teams who have one or two great bowlers in our division, but the depth we have usually gives us a big advantage, on the ‘B’ team,” said Farner. “If I have a player or two struggling, I can go to our reserves and not miss a beat.”
The girls team will be fronted by Mariah Gamel. Gamel, a freshman, will take over a team that lost standouts Tara Felser, Miranda Clark and Hunter McCarthy to graduation.
“Mariah is not only the top girl on our team, but I believe she will be competing for high average in our division, this season,” said Farner. “She is only a freshman, but has been a starter on our “a” team, since joining the team in seventh grade.”
Other contributors to the girls squad include senior Katherine Zygaj and sophomores Brittany Sullivan and Emily Zebrowski. Sophomore Elizabeth Chase and eighth-graders Emily Leverentz and McKenzie Brown will return to the team.
Newcomers to the team include freshman Hailey Lines, eighth-graders Lizzy Shearer and Skylar Tharnish. Lines is new to the sport, while Shearer and Tharnish have bowled in Farners’ youth league at Springville Lanes, for several years. With a relatively young squad, Farner said he has already seen a lot of improvement and has been impressed with his team’s willingness to learn.
“[They] are improving and learning more, every day,” added Farner. “The girls are a pleasure to work with because they are all such quick learners. They readily come to me for advice, during matches and practices, and they never quit trying, even when they are having a rough day.”
The boys and girls teams kicked off their season with wins against Eden on Dec. 9. On the boys side, Sibiga and Sullivan led the team, with three-game totals of 600 and 588, respectively. Abdo came in for relief and bowled a 205 game, to contribute to Springville’s 6-1 win. The girls beat Eden 5-2 and were led by Gamel, who bowled a 211 game and a 566 series.
On Dec. 17, Springville traveled to Pioneer and both teams found themselves on the losing end. The boys lost to Pioneer by a score of 4-3. McCarthy had the team’s high series, bowling a 515.
“The lanes were much oilier than our guys are used to,” said Farner. “We weren’t able to make the proper adjustments, in time.”
Gamel led the girls, rolling a 476 series, in a 6-1 loss.
Springville will return to action after winter break, with a match on Jan. 6 against Iroquois.