High School Bowling: New regime, same old success on lanes for Falcons
Senior-laden Eden boys looking for division title
The coaches leading the Frontier boys and girls bowling teams have changed but the passion for the sport and the talent within the program that’s existed for many years remains in tact. And so has the success that has been the result.
The Falcons boys look headed for a 13th straight ECIC Division I title coming off a 12-0 season and could challenge for a Section VI championship, while the Frontier girls are restocked and seem ready to get back on top in the division after a bit of a down year.
Veteran boys coach Bob Clendening and girls coach Joe Fasciana were part of the process of maintaining that strong program, but it’s also been a dedicated community of bowling that has helped create a culture around the sport.
“The bowling community is amazing with its support and coach Clendening has helped build up what we’ve got,” said new boys coach John Cordier, a teacher in the district who has coached other Frontier athletics teams. “They’re a big reason why the team is still doing well. The community is very serious about their bowling.”
New girls coach Mark Scudder, a former college baseball player and first-time bowling coach, credits the influence of past program leaders and players’ families for what Frontier puts out on the lane each season and should continue to do regardless of who is leading the teams.
“As a coach of this team I have to thank parents, grandparents and other coaches for what they have created in these girls,” he said. “Coach Fasciana and Coach Clendening have created a program that has a tradition of being successful and have to be thanked and acknowledged for what they have done.”
Cordier steps into a position in which his only problem is that there are too many good bowlers and not enough spots. It’s a problem he does not mind having. The boys team, a junior-laden group, has begun the season unbeaten at 4-0 going into the holiday break. Of his 12 bowlers, only two are seniors.
Junior Chad Mee highlights this group after qualifying for the state tournament for a third time last season and helping Section VI win a title. Also among the underclassmen, sophomore Bryan Carson has been a big surprise, throwing a 666 three-game set in a win over Orchard Park and promising freshman Nick Diflavio, who tossed a 236 game in that same match.
Seniors Jacob Johns-Sargent and Vinny Waleszczak are consistent contributors and leaders. A solid and steady junior class also includes Matt Kinn, Nick Brooks, Brandon Gates, Brandon Boechel, Justin Thomas and Ryan Harvey, who all take their turn rotating in to bowl.
“What’s unique about the team is that its depth goes a long way,” Cordier said. “We only have two four-man squads. Our ‘B’ squad bowlers would be on the ‘A’ of almost any other team. I can put any one of our bowlers in and they can all perform. It’s amazing.”
“I’m hoping to contend for a sectional title,” he added. “I want them to refocus on buying into the team concept and go in there to win.”
Coming off a 7-5 season, which is somewhat disappointing for a program with so many past successes, the Frontier girls have slipped only once this season, being edged by Lancaster. The Falcons are 3-1, including defeating cross-town rival Hamburg 6-1, and took third at the Maryvale Tournament.
Leading the girls team has been junior Kim Klinger, who sits atop the ECIC Large School South Division in average with a 195. She took first in high series at the Maryvale Tournament. Klinger is consistent and approaches the game with maturity, according to Scudder.
Taking the on the leadership role has been senior captains Brooke Miller and Samantha Shaffer, both of whom have been with the Frontier program since they’ve been in middle school.
Scudder said Miller brings the intensity, motivation and grit, while Shaffer leads by example on the lanes as well as serving as a mentor and role model to her younger teammates. Miller also set a school record this season with a high series of 750.
Sophomore Jordyn Buziak holds the final spot on the “A” team, thanks to her ability to score in the 200s and the chemistry she helps add to the group. Scudder said the well-rounded group seems to pick up for each other when someone is off their game.
Also among the team’s contributors are senior second-year bowler Jessica Cole; junior Courtney Leone, who averages 135 and has made tremendous strides since last season; sophomore Kara Kryszczuk, who averages 146; and sophomore Kayla Miller, the younger sister of Brooke, who averages a 141.
Kara Swan, a rookie bowler, has made some adjustments to her game and gone from averaging 110 to 141. Returning freshmen Katie Good anchors the “future A team” holding an average of 156. First-year bowlers include an improving Shelby Sailer and seventh grader Brittany McAndrews, who has a 137 average.
“During practice the team has fun and we try to add some healthy competition amongst each other,” Scudder said. “You’ll find the girls helping each other out with mechanics and how to approach different shots. Once competition comes around they all flip a switch and become a loud and boisterous crew.”
Scudder said he tries to take from the experiences of being a member of a number of successful teams when he was playing and translate them into his coaching. In 1995, he played for a Section IV champion Williamsville North baseball team and three years later, was a part of an ECC baseball team competing for the NJCAA championship.
“All of those teams had chemistry and every member was equally important to our success,” said Scudder, who believes so far the same can be said of his 12 bowlers.
Eden looks to contend in tough, realigned division
The team standing in the way of division titles the past two seasons for the Eden boys is now in another division with the new ECIC alignments this year, but that doesn’t mean the Raiders are preparing their trophy case for a new addition just yet.
A senior-laden team, led by state qualifier Andrew Herbert, has its work cut out for it in the new ECIC Small School South Division, which Jason Bernadone believes presents plenty of challenges even if it does not include Tonawanda.
Only Holland remains from the former ECIC IV in a division that now also includes Iroquois, Pioneer Springville and Lackawanna. Still, Bernadone expects to compete for the division title.
“We don’t really have a scouting report on any of the teams; it’s pretty much a new ballgame,” said Bernadone, whose team went into the week prior to the holiday break at 2-0.
“We’ve had two competitive matches,” he added. “I don’t expect it to be a cake walk against any of these teams. Tonawanda has been our rivals the past few years but overall the division seems to be more competitive, so you can’t slip up. We’ll need to have our ‘A’ game every match.”
Among the deep group of upperclassmen on this team, Herbert looks to get back to states after finishing second overall at last year’s Section VI Championships.
Joining him as “A” team bowlers are returning seniors Dan Scheffler and Dakota Sheffield, who has improved by over 20 pins after restructuring his mechanics following a major back injury two years ago, while senior newcomer Randy Goettel has been a welcome addition to the squad, averaging between 160 to 170. Senior Bert Edwards is also expected to be a consistent contributor.
Bernadone foresees freshman Bryce Turri following in the footsteps of Herbert and his senior role models. He believes Turri can be a state qualifier as he steadily improves his game and separates himself from the pack.