Longwood's Mikayla James bowls during the 2022 NYSPHSAA Bowling Championships...

Longwood's Mikayla James bowls during the 2022 NYSPHSAA Bowling Championships at the Strike N'Spare in Syracuse, NY, Sunday, March 13, 2022. Credit: Heather Ainsworth/Heather Ainsworth

SYRACUSE — It had been a while since the Longwood girls bowling team participated in the state tournament. Nevermind the event being canceled the last two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lions were making their first appearance since 1989, coach David Huey said.

The road upstate was paved by a full team effort. Sure, senior Katelyn Wheeler is capable of bowling a 300 in any given game but it’s the talented young bowlers behind her that make the Lions one of the best teams in the state.

Longwood went a long way toward proving that on Sunday at Strike ‘N Spare Lanes, totaling 5,689 pins in six games to finish second in the Division I championship. Rockland of Section I won with 5,874.

"All season long it’s been a team effort," Huey said. "Look at Mikayla James today, she stepped up and it says a lot about who we are and our team."

James, a sophomore, had the third best series in the championship with a six-game total of 1,254. Her 256 in the second game was her best effort. Samantha Felice added a 223 in the second game of a 1,142 series.

"We’re all so close and we rely on each other’s energy to help each other," James said. "Getting here today is a dream come true."

Wheeler, who threw the only two 300 games in Longwood history this season, finished the day with a 1,198 series and a high game of 257.

"I’m so glad to be here with my family and to have them be able to watch me because it’s my senior year," Wheeler said. "We had the whole season and you really never think you’re actually going to make it this far and then you're here. It still doesn’t feel real."

Huey added, "I’m sad to see Katelyn go. She’s one of the best bowlers in the county but I have faith in these younger kids. They eat, sleep and breathe bowling but I anticipate another good year next year."

Mineola, the Nassau champion, also has a bright future to look forward to with only one senior on the roster.

Sophomore Michaela Palumbo will look to continue her ascent as one of the best bowlers in the county. She bowled the highest game of the championship, rolling a 267 in the final game of the second highest series, a 1,272.

"Considering it was the last game of the season it really means a lot to me," Palumbo said. "I wasn’t trying to just do it for me but also for my team."

Mineola finished ninth with a six-game total of 4,954.

"The fact that we won counties and were able to come up here this season was such a good experience for us," Palumbo said. "Now we know what to expect in the future. Overall it was a great experience."

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