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Soedarmasto on a big roll for Division bowling

Brandon Soedarmasto of Division High School, right, gets

Brandon Soedarmasto of Division High School, right, gets congratulated by teammates after rolling a strike during the Nassau County varsity boys' bowling team championship at AMF Garden City Lanes. (Feb. 7, 2013) Credit: James Escher

Hey, Matt Farber. He's coming for your record!

Brandon Soedarmasto put Division boys bowling back on the map last season, lifting his team from obscurity to a Nassau championship run that surprised even them. He also earned Newsday All-Long Island honors.

Not a bad year. Then consider that he was only a freshman.

So, at 15 and already on Page 2 of his athletic resume, Soedarmasto now has made clear his goals for this season: Win another championship, of course. And beat Farber.

Why not aim for the top?

"If I could break his record as a sophomore," Soedarmasto said, "that would be insane."

Farber set the Long Island single-season record with a 244 average for Plainview JFK in 2012, shattering the old mark by more than 11 pins. It seemed then his record would hold for some time. Farber now works in a pro shop with Soedarmasto and the two have become close -- so he knows well what the youngster can and intends to do.

"If there's one person that I want to break it and who has the capability, it's him," said Farber, now a sophomore at Stony Brook. "The fact that he has a couple years left in high school is just scary."

Perhaps more frightening -- to the competition -- is that Soedarmasto holds a 240 average this season and still insists there are fine points in his technique he can improve.

His 224 last year was among the best, though it came during Division's unspectacular regular season. But in the Nassau championship, Soedarmasto erupted for a tournament-best 1,399 six-game series and led the underdogs to their first title since 1996. "It's pretty cool, being part of something special," he said. "Now we want to repeat and show it wasn't [a fluke]."

Division graduated several key seniors, but still is among the favorites with Soedarmasto and senior Chris Reilly emerging as a star tandem. The Blue Dragons are 3-1 thus far, and Soedarmasto rolled a 300 on Dec. 11. It was his first in scholastic competition, though he has 19 others in outside tournaments.

He seemingly has always been in the fast lane. Brandon began bowling at age 8 when his father, Hari Soedarmasto, got him a customized ball with a SpongeBob cartoon design. "I got into it because my dad made it fun," Brandon said. Within a year, he was able to bowl with a level of consistency, he said, and even shot a 233 at age 9.

Now, he combines precision with power. Game face on, Soedarmasto takes long strides on his approach then explodes with a high back swing and releases the ball with rapid revolutions -- a tumbling torpedo locked on the pins.

"He's a fun, goofy kid, but he's so consistent in every shot and that's what makes him special," Reilly said. "As a teammate, if you have a bad frame, you know he's gonna strike right after."

Some of the old guard remains -- established senior superstars like East Islip's Jacob Klein and Jeff Juarez of East Meadow -- but underway is an uprising of underclassmen. Sachem East's Nick Caruana, as a freshman last year, led Long Island with a 232 average. He and Soedarmasto, good friends, are already among the faces of boys bowling.

"Brandon is the hardest working individual, on and off the lanes, I've ever met," Farber said. "He deserves every single pin."

And he wants every single one.

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