Ciara Solomon is fueled by competition. It’s what made her join the Central Islip girls bowling team in seventh grade.
"I like to be looking across the lane at my opponent and know that if she throws a strike, I’m going to throw a strike," said Solomon, a senior. "I’m a competitor and I love to win."
Solomon and Central Islip have done a lot of winning this year. The team finished undefeated with a 12-0 record after defeating Bay Shore, 34-6, in its Suffolk League II finale Thursday night at East Islip Lanes. Bay Shore fell to 4-7.
The three-sport athlete (bowling, volleyball and softball) helped secure the program’s first league title since the 2017-18 season. Solomon rolled a 234 in Game 1, a 225 in Game 2 and a 233 in Game 3 of a 692 series. Leighanna Tolan added games of 267, 217 and 196 in a 680 series.
"I try to have the most consistent shot that I can, because that’s what bowling is all about," Solomon said. "It’s important to replicate the same shot over and over again and be able to pinpoint the correct line. I tell myself before every shot ‘consistency, consistency’."
Tolan has been nothing but consistent. The sophomore concluded the regular season with a 219.13 average, the second-best in the county behind Sachem’s Cira Arcangel (220.17). It is a 16-point difference from her freshman season when she averaged 203.44.
Central Islip is firing on all cylinders and will next compete at the county championship on Saturday, Feb. 12, at Bowlero Sayville. It will be the program’s 10th consecutive appearance at counties, but this time will be a bit different.
"In each of the previous years that we made it to counties, I have had to have two separate teams. One for the morning and one for the afternoon," said Central Islip coach Noel Rivera, who helped create the program 12 years ago. "There is always a NYSSMA [New York State School Music Association] event that weekend. This will be the first year we have all six starters bowling in all six games. I am excited to see what these girls can do."
Solomon is relishing the opportunity and at the same time, looking forward to what’s next.
"If we just continue to have fun, joke around and cheering each other on, we will be fine," Solomon said. "I love this sport and I’m going to try and bowl in college, but if I don’t I can always come down to the lanes and bowl for fun with my friends."
Nothing like a little friendly competition.