The rest is gravy.
Olivia Lopera checked off the final item on her to-do list last season when she set the single-season record for bowling average with a 228.30 and led the East Islip girls bowling team to third in Suffolk.
Lopera, Newsday’s returning Long Island Bowler of the Year, has never lost a regular-season high school game, East Islip coach Harold Cooley said, and she already has a state title from her sophomore year.
So, what’s left?
“I’m just bowling for fun right now,” Lopera said. “I’m still going to bowl the best I can bowl, but it’s not like I have to win something anymore. Being that I set the record last year, beating it really isn’t a priority for me this year. I want somebody to break my record.”
Lopera is as sharp as ever — she has a 222.9 average through her first 12 games with a high series of 699 — but this season isn’t about numbers or accolades, she said.
She has enough of those.
Instead, her countdown to bowling at Adelphi next season is a kind of farewell tour, a love letter to the sport she began at age 6 and started to take seriously in eighth grade.
Lopera said her expectations are still high, and she still practices for 10-12 hours each week, but she’s at peace no matter what happens this year.
The rest is gravy.
Cooley believes Lopera, senior Lyndsay Mavrich, her sophomore sister Melissa, and freshman Jenny Murphy — all of which rank within the top 10 in Suffolk averages — can lead East Islip back to the counties and beyond.
But the road won’t be easy.
Newly combined Sachem, formerly Sachem East and North, have made a strong impression with Amanda Naujokas, a 7th grader from Seneca Middle School, and her former rival-turned teammate Alissa Fontana. Naujokas has a 216.3 average through nine games and Fontana, a junior, isn’t far behind with a 211.1.
“All six players carry the team, but it’s good to have two players to bring the team over the top,” Naujokas said of teaming up with Fontana. “We’re going to be a good team this year.”
Patchogue-Medford, led by Britt Arne (229.5 average through nine games with a high series of 743), as well as Longwood and Middle Country are also standouts early in the season.