The Armstrong River Hawks’ bowling program has been as highly decorated as any athletic team since the school was formed and on Wednesday night, the boys and girls captured victories over St. Joe’s at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell.
The boys team returns three bowlers who made the trip to Nationals last year and thoughSt. Joe’s took the first game, the River Hawks rebounded to take the match, 2,687-2,330.
“They struggled a little bit at first, especially in the first game, figuring out the (oil) pattern of the lane and where they should stand, but they were able to turn it around and win the match,” Armstrong head coach Tom Shaner said. “Sometimes it’s hard to simulate game situations in practice because you don’t get up as much for practice as you do for the match. You also practice and get used to one place and need to go on the road and get comfortable with another place really quickly. I thought their experience showed in the last two games. They got it done.”
Senior Brody Clark led the boys with a 629 (231-171-227) and senior Chancy Lamison followed with a 539 (191-182-186).
Junior Caleb Zell was third on the team with a 509 (145-189-175).
Senior Jesse Halutick finished with a 503 (118-193-192), and Shaner pointed out that while Halutick struggled to figure out lane in the first game, experience took over and his bowler was able to rebound with two games in the 190s.
“Those lanes were tricky, especially for Jesse in that first game, but he got it figured out,” Shaner said. “One or two inches can make a big difference in bowling,you don’t have to be that far off and once he got his positioning, he finished up nicely.”
On the girls’ side of things, the River Hawks cruised to an easy, 2,312-370 victory as St. Joe’s was only able to list one bowler on the line-up card.
While being shorthanded is not something Shaner has to deal with thanks to a full card of bowlers, he can empathize with teams in that situation.
“We have five good female bowlers and not a lot of teams have that,” Shaner said. “One bowler constitutes an valid lineup and it’s really unfair for that girl because her team will lose every match, but if she is good enough, she can qualify for singles and you see some teams do that who just don’t have the numbers.
One bowler Shaner is happy to have on his girls’ roster is senior Olivia Emmonds.
Emmonds committed to St. Francis on a bowling scholarship this past week and she will again anchor the River Hawks as the team looks to continue its successful run.
“Olivia is a worker, let me tell you that,” Shaner said. “Out of anyone, she put in the most work this summer and this offseason and I told her before the year that my goal was for her to average 208 or better. She was in the 190s last year, but she will be that much better this year. For her to go to St. Francis for bowling just says so much about her work ethic. I could not be more proud of her.”
Emmonds finished with a team-high 552 (217-164-171) while senior while fellow senior Elizabeth Steim followed with a respectable 498 (185-163-150).
It was a strong win for the River Hawks to open the campaign and Shaner was confident about his team’s chances in a section they have dominated over the past four years.
“There’s really only one team that I worry about in the section and that’s Kiski (Area),” Shaner said. “They have a good team and can give us a challenge, but do I think my team is good enough to beat them? Yes, I do. If we have three guys on their game and we limit our team to 10 misses or less (open frames) then we will win 90 percent of the time. I think one thing that will help us is that our boys are familiar with pressure. For the girls, well, they have Olivia and she has and will continue to carry them. She is truly special.”
The River Hawks will continue their season with a road match next Wednesday against new section addition Apollo-Ridge.
Armstrong will roll its first home match of the season next Friday, December 14 at King Lanes in Kittanning against another new team, Freeport.