Marissa Mele of Seaford girls bowling walked through the doors to The OnCenter in Syracuse before practice and was blown away.
Both the girls and boys teams were about to compete in their first state team championship in only their second year as a program.
The boys tied for fifth out of nine teams, and the girls finished seventh in Division II competition on Saturday.
“It was really amazing,” Mele said. “I walked in for practice and I was just amazed. It was just too much to handle. To be at states, it was an incredible experience.”
The girls team was the first to lace up the shoes in the newly-built 48-lane bowling arena and home of the United States Bowling Congress Open championship.
“While it’s nice to be up on the podium and get a medal, just like the Olympics, this was an amazing experience for our kids and competing against the best bowlers around was an accomplishment,” Seaford coach Berto Cerasi said.
The boys rolled a 4,682 and the girls had a 4,056 in the six-game series. This was the debut of a Division II (small school) championship, for schools with enrollment of 599 and under.
Jonathan Saloman le the boys with a 988 series. Michael Mele rolled the high game for the Vikings with a 209 in Game 4 and a 978 series.
“For only our second year in the program, we did pretty decent today,” Saloman said.
“It’s an accomplishment,” the junior added. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience and hopefully we can do it again next year.”
On the girls side, Marissa Mele bowled a 918 series with a high-game of 202 in Game 3. Paige Donovan followed with a 913 series and a 181 high-game in Game 4.
Despite the standings, the team picked each other up, Mele said. While on a run with consecutive strikes in Game 3, she got into a rhythm.
“I found it and in my head before I bowled I thought I need to help out the team because they were down at the moment,” the freshman said. “I was thinking I need to do better for them this game.”
Lauren Prestia and Michael Mele each won the sportsmanship award.
Marissa Mele said it is “really incredible” for the program to have competed in a state championship in only its second season. “Today I stepped back and thought about it,” she said. “It’s our second year and we already made it to states. We are almost like the underdogs. We came in out of nowhere and we are already near the top.
“It is really incredible to think about how we have improved as a team, built up from each other and helped one another.”