As the head coach of a bowling team with a state championship under its belt, Frontier’s John Cordieu knows that early results can set the tone.
With the Falcons making their third appearance in four years at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships, Frontier opened the morning session with a sub-par 873, setting the Falcons back in sixth place out of the 10 sections.
They never dug themselves out of the hole in the schools team component of the tournament Saturday at AMF Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga. But the Falcons moved up two places in the afternoon, finishing with 5,390 total pins for a fourth-place.
Sachem (Section XI) won the state title with 6,166 total pins.
“In the beginning I think our guys, because of the youth and inexperience, maybe were overwhelmed by the whole situation and how good the competition was,” Cordieu said. “Then in the afternoon they did a lot better.”
During the first state championships in WNY since 2006, Frontier was led by freshman lefty Connor Gates’ 1,174 six-game seriet, which was ninth best and just 12 pins away from fourth.
Nick DiFlavio, the only current member who was a part of the 2014 state championship team, was next at 1,136.
Speaking of slow starts, the same can be said for first-year head coach Ruth Brock and her Orchard Park girls.
The morning began well when PBA Tour bowler and Cheektowaga native Ryan Ciminelli bowled the ceremonial first ball, but Brock saw her team muster a 863 in Game One, finishing the day in seventh with 5,044 pins.
Columbia (Section II) won the title at 5,563.
“It overwhelmed me a little bit, and the girls,” said Brock, who sent OP back to states for the first time since her senior year as a Quaker in 1986. “We wanted to come here. I knew they had it in them. I couldn’t have asked for a better team.”
Danielle Milo, who also received the Sportsmanship Award, led the Quakers with 1,077 for an average of 179.5. Nicole Rzepka was next for OP at 1,019.
With young rosters at OP and Frontier, the coaches hope competing against the best New York has to offer will give them even greater motivation next winter.
“Hopefully next year the kids will realize what it takes to compete at this level and be a little bit more competitive,” said Cordieu. “If we’re lucky enough to get in.”
Frontier eighth-grader Griffin McAndrews may have bowled in his first state event but his older sister, sophomore Brittany, is in her second.
She will shoot on the All-Section team today alongside frequent Airport Lanes bowler Kayli Christ of Maryvale and Angela Gabriele from Niagara Falls.
The boys will be led by Niagara-Wheatfield’s Nate Maloney in his second state appearance.
The morning session will begin at 9 a.m. at Airport Lanes.