Maryvale girls still a force in bowling
At press time, the Lady Flyers were 5-0 and have not lost a game within their division since Hannon started coaching there two seasons ago. They've also advanced to Sectionals last year and to States two seasons ago.
"We had a fairy tale first year," said Hannon. "We got into Sectionals as a big underdog and surprised everybody. We got into States for the first time in a number of years. We weren't real successful when we got to States, but not surprising because the team was so young; incredible to even be there."
So young, in fact, that their key bowlers this season were their core on that States team two years ago, and only one of them will be graduating this summer.
Senior Melanie Hannon, coach Joe Hannon's daughter, is bowling an average of 224 and is one of the best bowlers in the country. She's earned a scholarship to Fairleigh Dickinson University. She remembers making it to States her sophomore season like it was yesterday.
"We were definitely underdogs, so it was pretty exciting making it that far with my team," said Melanie Hannon. "We knew we had a chance to compete, so it was good to go out there and actually make it to States."
Melanie has made four All-Section VI teams in a row, and is on her way to a fifth selection. Her father has made every trip with her, either as a spectator or coach.
"It was a little more relaxing when I wasn‚t coaching," said coach Hannon. "I‚d make the trip with my wife, go down to enjoy ourselves and watch her bowl. Now it's more of a business trip. But I wouldn't trade it. It's been a great ride."
The Flyers have a nice core of bowlers with many wins and a plethora of experience under their belts, and they still have one year left at least. That core includes junior Megan Koscinski, who was only a sophomore on last year's team that lost to Niagara Falls at the Sectionals Championships.
"When it came to Sectionals, we were close, but it just didn‚t work out," said Koscinski. "It was pretty upsetting. We just really wanted to go back and it didn't happen. But we're hoping to go back this year."
Maryvale got a peek at Niagara Falls on Dec. 27 at the Festival of Lights Tournament at Thruway Lanes. Nineteen schools competed, with the Wolverines edging out the Flyers by nine pins for first place.
The team hopes that it can get another opportunity at Niagara Falls.
"We have to wait until the tournament to see how they're doing," said junior Jamie Michalewski. "So for Sectionals, we're looking forward to seeing them and beating them."
In addition to the Falls, the Flyers also look forward to the times that they go up against Cheektowaga Central. Both teams headed into their Jan. 7 match-up at Thruway Lanes unbeaten. The Lady Flyers will take their well-deserved 5-2 victory, and bragging rights over the cross-town rival Lady Warriors.
"We know how good we are, and it's good to show it," said sophomore Morgan Walsh.
"Bowling Cheektowaga Central is the ultimate rivalry," said Joe Hannon. "We thought we overmatched them last year and the year before, and we thought we were just going to roll over them. But it doesn't work that way. It's just great to have a rivalry and to go up against a team that really fights you tooth and nail. There's a lot of respect there."
Maryvale's quest for the Section VI title continues on Jan. 14 at Tonawanda, a quest that began last year at Thruway Lanes when they fell to Niagara Falls, with that game ingrained in their minds. They'll use that heartbreak as motivation.
"Now that we have the experience and the bitter disappointment of falling short last year, the expectations are really high right now," said Joe Hannon. "They really want to get back there, and they feel that this is their best chance."