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Eighth-grade wunderkind Hannah Skalacki sparks Middle Country

Middle Country eighth-grader Hannah Skalacki bowls during a

Middle Country eighth-grader Hannah Skalacki bowls during a match against Smithtown/Kings Park at Centerach Lanes on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. She rolled a 244 in each of the first two games and a 217 in the third. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

It all started out for Hannah Skalacki with bumper bowling as a 5-year-old.

She also watched her parents bowl in various leagues at Centereach Lanes. Skalacki saw her older sister, Kelly, compete for the Middle Country girls bowling team, which won a state title in 2013. (Kelly was Newsday’s Long Island Bowler of the Year in 2014.)

All the while, Skalacki knew how she felt about bowling.

“Bowling is very big in my family, and it means everything to me,” Skalacki said. “I love it when I’m doing really well, but when I’m not doing well, I don’t like it.”

Luckily for Middle Country, Skalacki has been doing very well this season. By the way, she’s only an eighth grader at Selden Middle School.

Skalacki rolled a 244 in both the first and second games and added a 217 in the third game for a 705 series as Middle Country defeated Smithtown/Kings Park, 976-917, 1,024-866, 991-886, in a Suffolk I match at Centereach Lanes on Thursday.

“She’s an amazing bowler,” Middle Country coach Mandy Dominguez said. “She’s better when there’s pressure, and that’s something you can’t teach. She has so much talent at a young age.”

Skalacki isn’t the only youngster bowling for Middle Country, which does not have a senior among its top six bowlers.

Sophomore Amanda Scarfogliero had a 226 in the third game of a 585 series, and junior Allison Burfeindt added a 225 in the second game in Thursday’s win. Juniors Julie Acosta, Autumn Novotny and Nicole Lettich are also key bowlers for Middle Country (9-1). All five girls attend Newfield.

“We’re all like a family,” said Skalacki, a southpaw, who bowls an extra 12-to-20 hours a week on top of high school and league matches. “We all get along so well. We’re like sisters.”

Middle Country clinched its eighth straight Suffolk I title last week, according to Dominguez. Now the squad has its sights set on the Suffolk Girls’ Wild Card on Tuesday, Jan. 31 at Sayville Lanes.

The Suffolk championships will also be held at Sayville Lanes on Feb. 4. Middle Country hopes to compete with the likes of East Islip and Longwood, among other Suffolk girls bowling heavyweights.

“I want to bowl the best I can, and hope for the best,” said Skalacki, who has a 212 average this season. “We want to win, but we’ll do our best. Hopefully we’ll make our spares, and see what happens.”

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