The Mohonasen boys’ bowling program is sporting several new, fresh faces this season.
That suits coach Rick Caruso, a long-time coach with Mohonasen’s boys’ modified soccer and freshman baseball programs, who took over the school’s boys’ bowling program with a chance to mold a team for the future.
“I’ve been bowling since I was a little kid. I bowled in all the major bowling things here [Sportsman’s Bowl], and I just like the game of bowling,” Caruso said.
With only two returning seniors among a few returners on the squad, Caruso decided to increase the Mighty Warriors’ roster size.
“When I heard that only three kids from last year’s team came back, I kept a couple seventh-graders that I thought were going to help me out for the future,” Caruso said. “I kept three kids on a practice squad. They’re technically on the team; they can’t bowl in matches, but they’re going to come in and practice. I can develop them and within the years they’ll come and be part of a team that will compete.”
Senior Andrew Cancilla has had to adjust to this year’s virtual matches, along with a younger group of bowlers on the nearby lanes. Due to COVID-19 precautions varsity teams compete on two separate sets of lanes and their competitors are often rolling at a different bowling center. The scores are forwarded to a coordinator, compared and posted.
“It helps when you’re in the same building because you can see what you are actually going up against instead of waiting to see what score they got,” Cancilla said.
Sophomore Gino Palleschi rolled a consistent 170-174-175 519 series for Mohonasen Wednesday against last year’s Section II Class B champion Schalmont at Sportsman’s Bowl. The teams both bowled there, but competed 12 lanes apart from each other.
Palleschi is taking advantage of his first season of varsity bowling, even if there are some unique restrictions in place.
“I started bowling [junior league] in the eighth grade,” he said. “To get to bowl this year and not have a season cut short or not have a season at all feels good. I definitely think it’ll get better; I’m hoping for better.”
Each bowler this winter has to adjust to bowling in high school events while wearing a a protective mask.
“It’s kind of tough because with the mask, sometimes you’re breathing so heavy, you get so hot, I start shaking a lot,” sophomore Ryan Monte said. “That sometimes gets in my head.”
What he and his other Warrior teammates can control is how they approach their work on the lanes.
“We just really need to work on our spares,” Monte said. “A lot of them [new bowlers], they need to learn how to move and how to adjust their ball to get a good line for their strike ball. A lot of them they just stay in the same place and keep hitting the wrong pocket.”
Caruso’s first year could not be more challenging, but the multi-sport coach views the big picture.
“I like that the kids are playing sports,” he said. “I also coach baseball and soccer. I want the kids to be out here and enjoying themselves. I think they really are.
“We’re going to have a fun year and we’ll be competitive the whole year, I think.”