Marissa Mele of Seaford, left, gets congratulated by teammate Paige...

Marissa Mele of Seaford, left, gets congratulated by teammate Paige Donovan after a strike in the Nassau County girls bowling championship at AMF Garden City Lanes on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Credit: James Escher

SYRACUSE — It was only a little over two years ago when Paige Donovan and Marissa Mele stepped onto the lanes as members of the newly formed Seaford girls bowling team.

And in that short time the duo has helped their team become a formidable contender in Nassau County.

The Vikings continued their steady ascension Sunday by finishing fifth in the state Division II championship at Strike ‘N Spare Lanes. Seaford bowled a six-game series of 5,114. Dunkirk of Section VI won the championship with a 5,671 series.

The Vikings improved on last year’s seventh-place finish.

“Our goal this year was just to do better than last year, especially since everybody who is on the team has a better average this season,” Donovan said. “We definitely thought we could do better than last year.”

Donovan finished with a 1,127 series, including a high-game 203 in the fourth game.

Though Seaford entered the state championship as a small-division school, there was nothing small about their performance in Nassau this season.

The Vikings finished with a team average of 687.4, which was 46.2 more pins per series than second-place Division.

Donovan ended the regular season with a 188.7 average, good for second in Nassau. Mele averaged 179.4, which was third.

Mele’s 1,006 series at the state championship was the third highest for Seaford. Hailey Galison had the team's second highest series with a 1,046.

“In the beginning of the program we didn’t expect to have all this success,” Mele said. “As we’ve progressed — winning the conference, and then at counties and now states — it’s just a lot to look back on and you realize how far we’ve actually come.”

Coach Berto Cerasi praised Mele and Donovan, his two captains, for their leadership ability but also noted the success they’ve had wouldn’t be possible without the rest of the team.

“We knew we had talent from the local PAL, but the most difficult thing and the thing I’m most proud of is that we’ve built depth,” Cerasi said. “We have a lot of numbers now. We have a good fifth and sixth bowler.”

And the future looks bright for the Vikings with both Mele and Donovan returning next season. Cerasi said the team is starting a mentoring program that will help develop the skills of middle-school bowlers.

“The biggest thing for them is they lead by example,” Cerasi said. “They’re always positive, they’re always early to practice and stay late. They really are leaders in school and in the bowling alley.”

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