We all know this is the time you must survive in order to advance. In Pennsylvania high school bowling, 56 teams qualified and competed in regional tournaments. Now, only six from the east and six from the west remain in the quest for state gold.
North Versailles Bowling Center in Pittsburgh suburb North Versailles is slated to host the 2016 team state championships on Saturday March 19 at 9 a.m. The east is represented by Warwick (regional champion), Penn Manor, North Penn, Harry S. Truman, Conrad Weiser, and Shikellamy. Participating for the west will be Hempfield Area (regional champion), Butler, Plum, Moon, Armstrong, and Blackhawk.
During team qualifying, each squad bowls three regulation games followed by six baker-style games across 12 lanes. After qualifying, the top four advance to the steppladder baker playoffs (each match is best two-out-of-three). The fourth and third seeds meet in a quarterfinal, the quarterfinal victor faces the two seed in a semifinal, and the semifinal winner will take on the top qualifier in the final.
Defending champion Neshaminy and 2014 winner Pennsbury, both from the Suburban One League National Conference and east region, failed to secure return trips. Neshaminy, which defeated Hempfield Area, 2-1(204-194, 197-227, 235-223), in last year’s final, finished in 13th place out of 40 at regionals. Pennsbury, which averaged more than 1,000 pins a game this season, earned 17th at regionals by not posting anything higher than 937 during its three regulation games.
Don’t be surprised if Hempfield Area
secures the top spot after qualifying for the fourth straight year. The Spartans are making their seventh consecutive appearance at states, having won top honors in 2010 and 2011 while notching runner-up finishes in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Hempfield Area consists of Josh Marks, Kevin Gray, Bryan Cunningham, 2016 west singles champion Bill Thomas, Josh Bittner, Jerome Kopeiszka, and Brady Stiffler. It looked like the Spartans would achieve victory in the 2015 final, but Neshaminy ended the decisive third game with seven straight strikes. This time, the Spartans will try to get over the hump without 2014 states singles winner and current University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg freshman Javon Trout, who rolled a tournament-high 727 series during qualifying in last year’s competition.
Along with Hempfield Area, keep an eye on Penn Manor, Warwick, and North Penn. Penn Manor, which has Tanner Simet, Nick Fisher, Austin Curtiss, Zach Bowers, Jordan Wakefield, Michael Morris, and Nick Mease, earned third at last year’s event and can typically tally 1,000-plus sets. Warwick’s in states for the first time since 2006, and you can expect plenty of 200 games from Cole Snavely, Isaac Erickson, Ben White, and Austin Barilar. North Penn can light up the scoreboard with leadoff Christian Stinson, senior two hole Dylan Bailey-Smith, three hole Colin Nast, senior four hole Lucas Denton, and junior anchor Tyler Sharpe (Zach Fuschetto is the Knights’ substitute).
This marks the 24th year Pa. is holding bowling state championships. Among all past winners in the boys’ team event, Hempfield Area (also in 2002) and Governor Mifflin (1994, 2003, and 2005) have the most titles with three apiece.