|Slater's Slant: Bowling in the Fast Lane|
|Thursday, 01 March 2012 22:31|
BY CHUCK SLATER
There are four leagues which comprise Section 1 high school bowling. Amongst them, they are sending a dozen individual bowlers – six boys and six girls – to the state tournament in Elmira this weekend. Three boys and three girls qualified automatically by having the highest averages over the season across the four leagues. The other three boys and three girls earned their spots by outscoring a large field in the sectional championships at Cortlandt Lanes in mid-February.
Take a bow, local bowlers. Fully half of the dozen call the North County area home.
Mahopac’s Jeanna Brown – only a freshman yet going to states for a third time – had the overall top average on the distaff side at 191 in the Dutchess-Putnam division. Michelle Schoenfeld, a Hen Hud senior, led the Northern Interscholastic League, which plays at Cortlandt Lanes and is home to most of the local teams, with a 188 to earn an automatic spot. Her Sailors teammate, freshman Chelsea Reichard, bowled well above her average at sectionals to claim the final girls spot.
Another Hen Hud kegler, senior Frank Mele, topped the Northern League boys with a league-record 212.5 average, third throughout the four leagues and just behind another senior, Mahopac’s Stephen Fragano.
But qualifying through sectional play was perhaps the best story of all: Panas junior Vinny D’Adonna, and his clutch finish.
D’Adonna’s 212.2 Northern League average had trailed Mele – and thus missed an automatic qualification – by .3 pins per game over the long high school season.
After a good but not spectacular 608 series in the morning block, D’Adonna slipped nearly out of contention with a 191 game to open afternoon play. “I thought I had blown it,” he said.
“I hadn’t had a really big game all day and now I didn’t know if even two big games would do it.”
D’Adonna, who started bowling in leagues with his mother before he reached high school, summoned all his skill and cool. The fifth game was a big game, 245. Now everything depended on game six.
He opened it with 11 straight strikes!
Even though he then left the 4-6-7 split, he had a 297 game and an easy qualification with a six-game total of 1,341.
“On the 12th ball, I tried not to rush it, but I did anyway and threw it way too slow,” D’Adonna said. “But it’s great making states.”
And making it with good friend Mele, both of whom work at Cortlandt Lanes besides bowling there.
“Coming in first overall was a thrill and an honor,” said Mele. “There are some powerful competitors in our league; each team has at least one good bowler.”
Bowlling isn’t even Mele’s main sport. The righty is an accomplished pitcher for his high school and in outside ball. “I play baseball nearly year-round,” he said. “Bowling keeps me busy in the winter; it’s more like a hobby.”
Mahopac coach Lou Loprinzo is high on the final boys bowler, his Stephen Fragano, as the section faces strange lanes. “Stephen is a very, very accurate bowler,” the coach said. “He studies the lanes and throws a strong and accurate ball.”
“Jeanna (Brown) is one of the few girls who throw with a lot of revolution on the ball,” the Mahopac coach says of his precocious freshman. “She’s very accurate, too.”
She comes by the skills honestly. “My whole family bowls,” said Brown, whose older brother Dominic averaged 206 during the season but missed the state team. “My dad, Jim, is in the high 190s.”
Jeanna Brown remembers being “around 7 or 8” when the family first took her bowling. “I got annoyed; I wasn’t good,” she said, the perfectionist in her showing. “My dad had to teach me. Then I loved it.”
Schoenfeld, who learned the sport from her parents and grandparents when 6, has been on the Hen Hud team since the 7th grade, improving her average each year and finally making states as a senior. “I’m very excited but very nervous,” she said.
The 5-footer who is headed for The Citadel to become a secondary-school math teacher throws a hard ball which belies her petiteness. “My size doesn’t affect how I throw the ball,” she said simply.
“She’s really dedicated,” said Hen Hud coach Joe Kalata. “She and Frankie (Mele) often practiced extra on their own, often with each other.”
Their Sailors teammate Reichard was the biggest surprise, performing 10 pins above her 164 average in the pressure of sectional competition though a freshman. “She bowls a lot,” Kalata said, “and she was bowling well at sectionals.”
“She’s really improved tremendously,” praised Schoenfeld.
That three Hen Hud students are going thrilled Kalata. About 1,000 kids bowl in Section 1,” he said, “and look what our kids accomplished.”
All the local bowlers have the same goal this weekend. “I want to bowl well and help the section team,” said D’Adonna, echoing a universal view.