CHEEKTOWAGA—The Springville-Griffith Institute boys and girls bowling teams competed in sectional competition for state qualification last week Feb. 14-15 at Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga.
The Griffins competed in the small school division with the girls team finishing 11th out of a field of 22 teams, while the boys teams was 20th in a field of 26 teams, with nearly 300 bowlers competing in each of the boys and girls divisions.
“It was a pretty good finish for the girls, I thought, considering the age of the team,” head coach Kevin Farner said. “I had two seventh-graders, two eighth-graders, two sophomores and a junior and a senior, so I had a very young team and I was pleased for them on how they bowled.”
Leading the girls team was Emily Leverentz, whose 965 set was good enough for 42nd overall. Also finishing in the top 100 was Cece Krezmien at 80 with a set of 898. The remaining bowlers were Megan Schneider (682), Emily Cott (561), Beth Schneider (514), Maddie Schwanekamp (333) and Draven Jagoda (209). Most of the aforementioned competed in at least three of the six games.
“[Leverentz] was my only senior on the team and she had been bowling with us since the seventh grade, she will be greatly missed and not for just her bowling,” Farner said. “She had a great attitude and she’s the type of kid that I get the most out of coaching.”
The girls’ 11th place finish came with a collective pin total of 4,162 with game scores of 653-687-662-721-743-696. The boys’ 20th place finish came via a 4,445 pin total with game scores of 741-746-785-701-735-737.
Leading the boys team was Nick Abdo with a 927 total for six games, earning his a 86th place overall. After Abdo was Emmitt Collins (927), Gage Marvin (747), Matthew Agle (590), Tom Sparks (550), Matt Warner (409) and A.J. Slippy (260), with most of those bowlers completing at least four games.
Both the boys and girls bowling teams finished with identical 7-3 regular-season records in the Small School South Division. The boys team finished second to Pioneer, while the girls team was third behind Pioneer and JFK, although the division-leading Pioneer lone loss was to Springville.
Abdo not only led the boys team, but finished second in the division during the season. Farner also began instructing Abdo when he was in the Middle School, but admits it was more challenging because he was the first he instructed as a two-handed bowler.
“[Abdo] began experimenting with [using two hands to throw the ball] in the eighth grade and I kind of learned it along with him,” Farner said. “[Two-handed bowling is] becoming more and more common and probably 10 years ago I had only seen maybe two or three people do it. Then a few years ago the Junior Gold Tournament came to Buffalo and I probably saw 100 different boys throwing two-handed.”
While Farner says none of his girls have yet to “take the plunge” with the new style, he does admit certain advantages.
“You generate more power on your throw that results in greater speed and more revolutions,” he said. “I think a one-handed bowler might throw between 16-17 MPH, whereas a two-handed bowler throws between 20-21 MPH. Plus, you never have a sore thumb since your thumb isn’t in the ball.”
Farner will do whatever he can to accommodate any bowler and, like last season when he had a bowler compete both in bowling and basketball during the same season, such was the case this year with Abdo competing in bowling and indoor track.
“[Abdo] is definitely a devoted track athlete, so he only got to practice with us about once a week.” Farner said. “He really enjoys it and is a great kid to have on the team so I tried to accommodate him and I think it worked out pretty well. He ended up as our top bowler with the highest average on the team, so even though he was a part-time player he was a very strong part-time player.”
During the long week at Airport Lanes that also included Erie County Interscholastic Conference competition Feb. 12-13 – where Farner admits his teams did not do very well – the longtime bowling coach helped keep the atmosphere light by rewarding top scores with cookies for the boys and Hershey Kisses for the girls.