After finishing eighth, fifth and third, respectively, at the county championship the past three seasons, the Massapequa boys bowling team is primed to be first.
With every starter returning from last season, expectations are sky high.
“The boys are very excited for this season. For the seniors there is no tomorrow,” coach Jesse Meyer said. “The majority of bowlers have been together for the past four years and they feel like now it’s their time.’’
Massapequa is led by seniors Kevin Cardno and Stephen Gardner and junior Ben Lewkowitz, who averaged 203 last season and missed qualifying for the states by six pins. The Chiefs also will rely on Teddy Woodworth, a four-year varsity bowler, and fellow sophomore Jacob Hunter.
Standing in the way of Massapequa’s quest for a county title is Hewlett, the defending county champion. The Bulldogs return all but one bowler. Senior Matt LeBlanc and juniors Zane Lipson and Dylan Ristano will attempt to earn Hewlett its third county title in the past four years.
“This team is better than last year’s, in my opinion,” Hewlett coach Nick Paxinos said. “We are going to build ourselves up to the (county) tournament, and nothing short of a title would be marked as a success.”
For the first time, there will be a separate division for large schools and small schools in Nassau, which will allow small schools such as Clarke and Seaford to compete in the county tournament.
“In the long run it is going to benefit all the teams,” Seaford coach Berto Cerasi said. “It was the right thing to do for the small schools.”
Seaford went 14-2 in its inaugural season.
“In the offseason we have been working on acquiring more depth,” said Cerasi, who brought on juniors Jonathan Salomon and Max Pedone from junior varsity. “Having this depth will help the guys handle the pressure of bowling at a high level.”
Speaking of depth, defending Suffolk County champion East Islip may be the deepest team on Long Island. The Redmen finished second at the state championship last season by one pin. “Our goal this season is to get back and find that pin,” East Islip coach Bob Cheadle said.
Seniors James Spina, Justin Orobello, Anthony Valente and Eric Talder each averaged above 210 last season. Junior Aaron Rice rolled a 289 in Game 1 of a 797 series for East Islip in its first match last Tuesday.
Sophomores Sonny Pico, Chris Andresen and Peter Miglionico each averaged above 210 last year as well and will find their way into the lineup.
“The thing about our team is that there is a lot of internal competition,” Cheadle said. “That kind of competition is what makes us as good as we are.”
Patchogue-Medford, Longwood, Commack and Middle Country all have a plethora of talent and will hope to contend with East Islip in Suffolk.
Another team looking to repeat as champion is Chaminade, which is looking to capture its seventh consecutive CHSAA title. James Alaimo and younger brother Marcus will be a solid 1-2 punch for the Flyers. Chaminade also will rely on Bobby Wright, who won the individual CHSAA title as a junior, and fellow senior Paul Igel. Matt Capellupo, who rolled the high game of 290 at the CHSAA state championship last season, will provide more strength for the Flyers.
“Our goal is to continue our record of success,” Chaminade coach Terence Fitzgibbon said. “Regardless of who we are going up against, we are going to try and put up at least a 200 score per man.”