Christiana Chopyk had to be all but forced to join the St. Dominic bowling team this year -- cajoled by coach Mike Gordek after she went to see her little brother compete for the boys team.
"I didn't have shoes, I didn't have equipment," the senior said. "I was bowling a 67 in the beginning of the season."
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Fortunately for St. Dominic, Chopyk changed her mind (and her pin count).
Led by her career-high 189 in Game 3, No. 6 St. Dominic, seeded last after winning twice in the regular season, defeated reigning champion St. John the Baptist, 790-836, 877-855, 846-817 Friday in the CHSAA team championship at Farmingdale Lanes. Chopyk, who began the day on the practice lane, bowled a 152 in Game 2.
St. Dominic (5-8) took total wood by only five pins and was put over the top by Toniann Pasqueralle's strike in the 10th frame in Game 3.
"I had no idea," Pasqueralle said. "I hadn't done the math . . . And I have no clue how we turned [the season] around, but I think we wanted it. The team came together.
No. 2 St. John the Baptist, which only has five girls on the squad, played with a "blind" score of 100 pins per game to compensate for the lack of a sixth bowler. The Cougars (8-3) were led by Caroline Herrera, who bowled a 199 in Game 2 of a 585 series.
The Bayhawks defeated No. 1 Kellenberg and No. 4 St. Anthony's to get to the final for the second time in the program's two-year history.
"All the odds were stacked against us," Gordek said. "[Christiana] wasn't a bowler and then she came and led us. It was amazing."