NCAA Division 1 March Madness is right around the corner, and so is high school championship bowling. North Versailles Bowling Center in Pittsburgh suburb North Versailles plans on hosting the 2016 Pennsylvania state singles championships on Friday March 18.
Twenty-four boys (12 from the east 12 from the west) will compete for state gold. The east is represented by Peter Strippoli (Neshaminy), Dominik Bouman (Conestoga Valley), Austin Long (Shikellamy), Daniel Althouse (Conrad Weiser), Austin Barilar (Warwick), Nick Kahler (Shikellamy), Chris Houtz (Midd-West), Brian Kennedy (Central Philadelphia), Kevin Sampson (St. Joseph’s Prep), David Callahan (Pennsbury), Eric Belles (Middletown), and Tanner Simet (Penn Manor); Strippoli triumphed against Bouman for region gold. Bill Thomas (Hempfield Area), Bailey Diggins (Gateway), Jon Kleer (Moon), Justin Majoy (Baldwin), Noah Hayes (Penn Trafford), Nicholas Huff (Butler), Zachary Heater (Greensburg Salem), Josh Bittner (Hempfield Area), Chandler Yocca (Serra Catholic), Dean Chubarov (Carlynton), Shawn Marcellus (Butler), and Joshua Marks (Hempfield Area) represent the west; Thomas defeated Diggins, 224-214, in the west regional championship, and Marks earned the region’s last state berth by beating Ambridge’s Brad Kokan in a roll-off.
There’ll be a new state titlist because Neshaminy’s David Moffitt, who defeated Armstrong’s Jared Shaner in the 2015 final in a roll-off (211-211 after 10 frames), graduated. Kennedy, Belles, Hayes, Heater, Diggins, and Majoy are returning participants from last season’s tournament. Heater earned fifth place and Hayes took home third.
During the qualifying portion, each participant will bowl six regulation games (out of 1,800 pins) across 12 lanes. The top five advance to the steppladder finals: the five and four seeds will meet in an opening round game, the winner of the opener takes on the three seed in a quarterfinal, the quarterfinal victor faces the second seed in a semifinal, and the semifinal winner squares off against the top seed from qualifying for the state championship. Last season’s top performer in the qualifying session was Shaner with 1,617, including two 299 games; he also graduated last June.
Watch out for Hayes to be among the contenders because he has 14 299 games. Also keep your eyes on Houtz since he recorded a 300 game during qualifying of this season’s east regional.
Regional scores were stronger in the east than the west. Leisure Lanes in Lancaster, which held the east tournament on March 4, saw the top 12 average 218.4 (1,092) to 237.4 (1,187) during five qualifying games. Meanwhile, the top 12 March 11 west competition in North Versailles notched 1,062 (177) to 1,282 (213.6) in six sets of qualifying.
This marks the 24th season Pa. is holding state championships for bowling (the ninth in which participants qualify through regionals). Based on past seasons, it’ll be difficult for Strippoli and Thomas to hoist the first-place trophy. In 2009, Woodland Hills’ Antonio Palangio became the first and only bowler to capture both regional and state crowns during the same seaaon.