SCHENECTADY — It’s only fitting that unflappable senior bowler Katie Polomaine is playing a major role in Schenectady High School’s historic season.
The Polomaine name is legendary in Capital Region kegling circles, as Harry Polomaine, the late brother of Katie’s grandfather, was one of the greatest bowlers in area history. Much like Harry, Katie features a down-and-in style with tremendous accuracy, especially with her spare shooting. She’s also known for excelling in the clutch.
The Polomaine-led Patriots not only won the school’s first-ever Section II bowling title when they captured the girls’ Class A crown last month at Boulevard Bowl, but according to head coach Karen Daffner, they also secured Schenectady’s first girls’ sectional title of any kind since the 2004 volleyball team. They will compete in the New York State Public High School Bowling Championships this weekend at AMF Strike N Spare Lanes in Syracuse.
“When I think about what I like in Katie’s game, I think about the fact that she doesn’t get nervous,” Daffner said. “She never gets rattled. She zones everything else out of her mind and just bowls. That’s why I like having her as my anchor bowler.”
“She’s just clutch,” added assistant coach Sharon Sager, a Schenectady USBC Hall of Famer and longtime youth coach. “I would say Katie is more of a down-and-in bowler who doesn’t hook the ball a lot, but she’s extremely consistent, which is very important in this game. She can hit a dime out there.”
Daffner doesn’t name official captains on her team and lets her three seniors divide up that responsibility.
“Katie is a quiet leader for me,” Daffner said. “She doesn’t want to be a spectacle. In fact, none of my seniors are very vocal. We’re a very low-key kind of team.”
“We are silent, but deadly,” Sager said. “I would say we’re not a very demonstrative team that runs shots out, but Katie is extremely competitive. She gets upset with herself more than with anyone else. I would say she is extremely easy to coach. She can make a one- or two-board adjustment very easily, and she’s very deceptive. Sometimes, she amazes me how she can adjust. I’ll tell her to turn her hand over to get it into a better roll sometimes, and she does it very quickly. Making adjustments is one of the big reasons for her success.”
Polomaine got some early instruction from her grandfather and uncle, but she basically picked up the fundamentals of the game on her own.
“I’ve been bowling since I was 6 years old,” she said. “But one specific coach, David Mennillo, really is responsible for helping me to improve over the last few years. I give him a lot of credit for my spare game and my ability to make adjustments.”
Polomaine said she gets noticed quite a bit on the lanes because of her famous relative.
“Everyone around here seems to know who he was, so I get associated with him all the time when they see my name,” she said. “I wish I had a chance to see him bowl, but I never did.”
Polomaine led the Patriots in scoring average with at 193, including 191 in league matches. Her high triple is a 693, and her high game is a 259.
“I would really like to get my first 700 triple in the State Tournament. That would be great,” she said. “As far as my high single is concerned, the most strikes I’ve had in a row is seven, but I’ve done that a few times. I don’t get nervous when I’m on a good roll. I just know I liked every shot, so I feel very comfortable.”
Polomaine said being part of this historic run feels special.
“It’s amazing to be a part of this team. We made history,” she said. “It’s such a great feeling to be the first ones to win a title, and to have the whole team going with me to states makes it even better. It will feel more like home.”
Rounding out the starting lineup for the youthful Patriots are sophomore Kiara Beehm, who is second in average at about 190, sophomore Ashley Wolf, sophomore Shane’ Terry and eighth-grader Selena Wolf. Senior Audrey Hamel, senior Chloe Wise and ninth-grader Ajiana Martinez come off the bench.
“I don’t know about my expectations,” Daffner said about the state tournament. “I think they will hold their own, though. They need to realize that this is a great accomplishment. I never thought we would win sectionals. I just wanted to finish third.
“The key is for them to enjoy it and live for the moment. This kind of thing doesn’t happen all the time.”
“We hope this helps promote bowling in our school system,” Sager added.
Meanwhile, also competing this weekend will be the Middleburgh girls’ team in the small-school division, the composite girls’ section team, the Schalmont boys’ team in the small-school division, the South Glens Falls boys’ team in the large-school division and the composite boys’ section team, which includes Schenectady’s Seven Terry and Mechanicville’s Jacob LaFountain.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected] or @BobWeiner58 on Twitter.