Comfortable, relaxed and devoid of high expectations, the surprising Saratoga Springs boys’ bowling team knocked down at least 1,020 pins in five of their six games to capture the Section II Class A championship Monday at Boulevard Bowl.
The consistent Blue Streaks recorded a pinfall of 6,214 to hold off hard-charging Columbia (6,124) by 90 pins, despite shooting only an 861 in their final game. Niskayuna was third with 5,949 pins, followed by Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (5,940) and Mohonasen (5,913), which was second after the first block, trailing Saratoga by 115 pins.
“We’ve had good bowlers, but we’ve never won sectionals before as far as I know,” said Saratoga Springs coach Rich Lofink. “We’ve had bowlers of the year before, like Hunter Chandler. He made the state team,” he added.
Lofink was a little surprised that his team was able to keep up the pace for so long.
“We bowled great today, although we tried to give it away at the end,” he said. “The lanes were breaking down, but we were very consistent today. We just made our spares, and we threw a lot of strikes in the beginning. I think it was good bowling a team [Mohonasen] that we didn’t know anything about in the beginning. We don’t bowl them in the regular season, which makes it a little more comfortable. There’s no expectations. They didn’t know anything about the other team, which makes it nice. Then, there’s no nerves. They just went out and had fun. They’re a very relaxed group, and they get along really well together,” Lofink said.
The Blue Streaks used only five bowlers all season, yet they are among the deepest teams talent-wise in school history.
“Last year, I thought we were deep, but it didn’t matter because of COVID,” Lofink noted. “But this year we’re solid 1-5. All five guys are averaging 190 and above. We just stayed with the same group the whole time. I’m just so happy and proud of them. They did awesome. You can see in the morning block that it was packed up, but all of them had good scores. We kept shooting. Obviously, the 1,107 in the first game [of the afternoon block] was huge, and when you keep carrying strikes after strike and getting doubles and triples, that was huge as well.”
Lofink hoped his team would be competitive at sectionals, but he knew the Class A field was loaded.
“You know, there are some very good bowling teams here,” he said. “After the first couple of games, I thought we had a chance. My expectations were to finish in the top five. That was my goal, to be honest.”
Junior Luke Rupp led the way for the Blue Streaks with games of 289 and 278 en route to a 777 triple in the morning block. He finished with a six-game block of 1,360. Brady Jennings added consistent triples of 632 and 640 for a 1,272, followed by Chris Youngs (579-681 – 1,260), Macallen Gagne (660-526 – 1,186) and Cameron Lehnert (525-611 – 1,136).
“I just tried to do my best,” said Rupp. “The lanes were perfect for me, but in the third game of the afternoon block they got too dry for me. We knew we had a big lead going into the last game though,” he said.
“Our home center is Saratoga Strike Zone, and we don’t get scores like these. Our good scores are usually in the 600s,” Rupp added.
Brad Schilling of Shaker rolled a perfect game for the top single game. Columbia’s Aidan Goodwin fired a 1,393 six-game block, followed by Kyle Smith of Niskayuna (1,384), Tyler Bogholtz of Columbia (1,351) and Steve Zarub of Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (1,351).
The current composite all-star team, excluding today’s Class B Tournament, includes Goodwin, Smith, Bogholtz, Zarub, Tyler Drexel of Duanesburg (1,303) and Anthony Paradiso of Fort Plain (1,295).
Team scores – Saratoga Springs 6,214, Columbia 6,124, Niskayuna 5,949, Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake 5,940, Mohonasen 5,913, Shaker 5,890, Colonie 5,614, Guilderland 5,613, Averill Park 5,557, Shenendehowa 5,483, Amsterdam 5,383, Albany 5,294, Troy 5,259, South Glens Falls 5,228, Bethlehem 5,112, Ballston Spa 4,996, Scotia-Glenville 4,971, Queensbury 4,869, Schenectady 3,989.
High triples – Luke Rupp (Saratoga) 777, Kyle Smith (Niskayuna) 749, Aidan Goodwin (Columbia) 701. High singles – Brad Schilling (Shaker) 300, Tyler Bogholtz (Columbia) 289, Joe Minehan (Averill Park) 279.
Composite team – Aidan Goodwin (Columbia) 1,393, Kyle Smith (Niskayuna) 1,384, Tyler Bogholtz (Columbia) 1,351, Steve Zarub (BH-BL) 1,313, Tyler Drexel (Duanesburg) 1,303, Anthony Paradiso (Fort Plain) 1,295.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected]