Section VI champion, team: Class A – Frontier (represented Section VI in state tournament); Class B – Williamsville South; Class C – Fredonia; Class D – Cattaraugus-Little Valley.
Section VI all-star team (underclassmen): Sara Snyder (Depew); Angela Gabriele (Niagara Falls).
Section VI championships, 2016: Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga, Feb. 11.
State championships, 2016: Airport Lanes in Cheektowaga, March 5-6.
Who’s good? The two returning members from the all-star team are good in their own ways. They have different styles – Snyder is a righty who takes more of a different path to the head pin, while Gabriele is a lefty who uses an outside route. Both styles work well.
Gabriele is one of two bowlers on the Niagara Falls team who was on the state champion team for Niagara Falls in 2012. Luxurie Sistrunk is the other. Brittany Price is off to a fine start for Niagara Wheatfield. Brittany McAndrews of Frontier has a great deal of potential, displayed when she finished third in the Section VI championships. Brianna Mieth of Lancaster took the individual honors at the recent Maryvale Tournament.
Among teams, North Tonawanda got off to a great start by winning the Kickoff Tournament among Niagara Frontier League teams. They look like the early favorites. But Niagara Falls has Gabriele and Niagara Wheatfield usually is strong. Among ECIC teams, Frontier took the 30th annual Maryvale tournament. The host Flyers finished fifth in that competition, but they always seem to have plenty of talent and figure to factor in the sectional battles. St. Mary’s of Lancaster looks like it will be strong in one of the divisions of the Monsignor Martin Association competition.
Numbers: Bowling isn’t as popular as it used to be in Western New York; the number of establishments dedicated to the sport have dropped in recent years. That’s had a trickle-down effect to the high school level in the past few years. One coach said the drop-off in talent in the past 20 years has been quite dramatic. The elite bowlers from Section VI are still good, but depth has been a problem. However, he was quick to add that there have been signs of improvement in the past few years, which may help Western New York move back up the ladder in state competition.
Who will be the Prep Talk Player of the Year? Snyder and Gabriele look like the early favorites, naturally, but there’s plenty of competition to make it an interesting race.