Freehold Township High School’s girls’ bowling team will head into 2016 with a two-game edge on perennial champion Howell High School. The Patriots are 14-1 in Shore Conference Central B Division play, while the Rebels stand at 12-3.
Robert Wagner, the Patriots’ new head coach, has credited the team’s overall balance for its fine start, which has put it in a strong position to win its first division championship.
“The girls have had a very successful start,” Wagner said. “[The coaching staff was] immediately able to identify our starting five varsity girls and have been very proud how quickly they have come together as a solid unit.”
Wagner added that it has become apparent the Patriots will be in the division title chase all year. The Patriots’ balance is reflected by the fact that there is only a 28-pin difference between the five players.
Clare Chaffer has the team’s best average at 177. Allison Finn is next at 165, with Victoria Parinello (158), Amanda Fendelender (150) and Danielle Taylor (149) completing the scoring.
Freehold Township has the highest series of the season to date at 2,711, which is almost 200 pins ahead of Howell (2,525).
Howell, which has dominated the division over the last 15 years with 13 championships in that time span, is in the unfamiliar position of doing the chasing. After starting 3-3, Howell has righted the ship and won nine straight, figuring to be on the Patriots’ heels the rest of the season.
Champagne Hill sports the highest average for the Rebels at 184. It is the third best average in the division. She has a high game this year of 234.
Behind Hill, Amanda Dorner (177) and Nicolle Wetzel (167) are having very good seasons. Madison Gibson (153) and Alex Scranton (142) complete the Howell lineup.
The Rebels, who lost to the Patriots in the first match of the season, will get another shot at them Jan. 13 at Howell Lanes. Howell may need a 3-0 sweep that day to overtake the Patriots. Manalapan High School has a 6-9 record and is led by the 166 average of Kailey Siagkris. Alissa Rescigno (159) and Ceara Canaley (156) are next in line.
Colts Neck High School has not won a match this year, but it has one of the best bowlers in the division in Jen Sisti, whose 182 average is fourth best in the division. She qualified for the NJSIAA Individual Tournament last year with Hill and Chaffer.
Freehold Township’s boys have a very tough act to follow. The 2014 Patriots won the Group IV championship.
Team captains Dylan Pittman and Jimmy Tamai are among the graduated seniors from that squad.
Wagner noted the Patriots are still trying to determine their starting lineup. Rickey Garvey and Ty Sebor are the returning starters from the Group IV champions.
Garvey is having a big year, sporting a 217 average and the season’s best series in the division at 696.
Sebor (173), Tom Laskay (186) and Jon Golba (176) have been in the lineup most often.
The Patriots are currently tied with Howell and Jackson Liberty High School for second place with a 9-6 record. Jackson Memorial sits atop the division with a 12-3 record.
Robbie Wetzel leads Howell with a 204 average. T.J. Carey (191), Jeremy Isaacs (191), Brian Ganofano (187) and Joe Insera (172) complete Howell’s top five.
Manalapan (6-9) has been led by veterans Tom Cardella (188) and Dan Natoli (186).
Winless Colts Neck is led by Dan Schulte’s 168 average.
This year’s Shore Conference Individual Championships are Feb. 3 at Bradley Bowl in Bradley Beach, and the Shore Conference team tournaments are Feb. 4 for the boys and Feb. 9 for the girls, also at Bradley Bowl.
The state sectionals at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick are Feb. 6 for the girls and Feb. 13 for the boys.