For the second year in a row Andrew Herbert qualified for the states in bowling, but this year there’s one big difference.
This time he’s going as the Section VI champion after the Eden junior rolled a six-game total of 1,376 on Friday at Thruway Lanes. His victory came against a field of 370 bowlers from 50 schools.
After having to rally in the afternoon session last year to qualify, Herbert made it much easier on himself this year leading most of day. He was in first place by 49 pins after the three-game morning session with a 742. He came back with a 634 in the afternoon.
“I stayed calm, relaxed, tried to make good shots, and learned from last year when I started terrible,” he said. “I started like 530 last year and was way out of it. I took the lunch break to think about it and knew that I had to come back big in the next games. I shot 700 to get in.”
Close behind was junior Chad Mee of Frontier, who finished second, a mere eight pins back. Cheektowaga junior Connor LaJoy was third, 56 pins off the pace.
Herbert leads the All-Section team that also includes LaJoy, senior Peter Wozniak (North Tonawanda), junior Tyler Roskwitalski (Lew-Port), eighth-grader Nathan Maloney (Niagara-Wheatfield) and senior Aaron Broardt (Williamsville South). Both LaJoy and Broardt had games in which they ran seven strikes in a row, Broardt finishing with a 265 game and LaJoy ending at 254.
Herbert, Wozniak and Maloney all have state tournament experience.
“I had good ball reaction, got a couple good breaks, a couple bad breaks,” said Herbert, who hopes to study engineering at the University at Buffalo in the fall. “There were so many people who had a chance to get on the [All-Section] team that anything could have happened.”
While Herbert claimed individual honors, Frontier added to its undefeated season in ECIC I in a big way winning the overall team title, its first crown since 2005.
ECIC I foe Orchard Park was runner-up, 43 pins back, as Erich Nahdebeski and Sam Rizzo kept the pressure on. North Tonawanda was third and defending Class A champion Niagara-Wheatfield was a solid fourth.
Frontier only has two seniors, Vinny Waleszczak and Jacob Johns-Sargent. Leading a solid junior class is Mee with Matt Kinn, Nick Brooks and Justin Thomas. The only sophomore on the squad is Bryan Carson.
This will be Mee’s fourth trip to states. Last year he was on the All-Section team, this year he’s going with his teammates. He led the ECIC in average this season with a 232. Mee got better as the day went on with afternoon session games of 220, 258 and 258.
“I struggled in the morning, a lot of people did, and then I figured out to move my feet left and I was able to throw a lot of strikes. The pattern was a little tough, but by the afternoon it broke down a little,” he said.
First-year Falcons coach John Cordier used his deep lineup throughout the day to stay ahead of the competition and survive a lane breakdown.
“We put in a couple substitutions during the day and every guy contributed, which is why we’re in the position we are right now,” he said.
Grand Island took top honors in Class B led by AJ Brink, Sam Colao and Tyler Mondoux. Cheektowaga was second, but only after holding off Lew-Port by three pins.
Eden made it two Class C titles in a row and Silver Creek, runner-up a year ago, won Class D. Elliott Martin set the pace for Silver Creek.
Frontier, along with the members of the All-Section team, will represent Section VI at the New York State Championships March 1-3 in Syracuse. Expectations will be high for the All-Section team as they are the defending state champions.