It’s almost payday for Section VI bowlers.
After a good three weeks of bowling on local lanes using the oil pattern they’ll see at states, the struggle should pay off with big scores this weekend. The Frontier boys and Sweet Home girls will compete for team titles on Saturday while the All-Section boys and girls teams lace up their shoes on Sunday at the New York State Championships at Strike N’ Spare Lanes in Syracuse.
Local proprietors have been most accommodating putting out the USBC pattern down for big competitions like the ECIC Rolloffs, the Roy Sommer, last week’s Section VI Championships and for state team practices.
“There are four championships to win and last year we took two firsts and a second,” said Section VI boys bowling chairman Dan Kaplan of Cheektowaga. “We want the kids to get as many looks as they can.”
Expectations are high this year as the All-Section teams are always competitive at states and Frontier and Sweet Home were two of the top teams this year.
The boys All-Section team looks to defend its state title with Section VI champion Andrew Herbert (Eden), Connor LaJoy (Cheektowaga), Peter Wozniak (North Tonawanda), Tyler Roskwitalski (Lew-Port), Nate Maloney (Niagara-Wheatfield) and Aaron Broardt (Williamsville South).
The Falcons are led by Chad Mee, Matt Kinn, Bryan Carson, Jacob Johns-Sargent, Nick Brooks, Justin Thomas and Vinny Waleszczak.
Herbert and Mee were on the All-Section VI a year ago that won. Mee had the best six-game score among all boys with a 1,344.
The Sweet Home girls didn’t bowl in a lot of the big local tournaments, but they answered the call at sectionals. Void of any stars, they proved to be a deep and balanced squad with eight bowlers averaging over 150.
The Panthers’ lineup includes Diamond Carter, Alyssa Davis, Nikki Merrifield, Taylor Falzone, Kathryn Rogemoser, Maddie Wahl and Brianna Gerner.
The girls All-Section team will be led by Section VI champ Cassidy Powers (North Tonawanda) along with Bridget Masiello (Lockport), Melanie Hannon (Maryvale), Haley Carroll (Williamsville South), Alexis Wade (Lew-Port) and Kayla Grey (Cattaraugus/Little Valley).
Tyvon Rivers of Sweet Home has a few more hurdles to climb before the end of the season. The Sweet Home senior is looking to return to the 55 hurdle final this year at the New York State Indoor Track and Field Championships on Saturday at Cornell University in Ithaca. The boys will complete from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. followed by the girls from 2-6 p.m. Live results will be available on leonetiming.com.
Rivers was third last year in 7.56. “In practice I work real hard to get to get to where I want to go. I can always do better, there’s always room for improvement,” said Rivers, one of 88 athletes the section is sending.
There are plenty of other title contenders. Junior TJ Hornberger of Lake Shore loves the big meets and is going after the 1,600 title. “Right now I’m dropping the two-mile and I’m going to focus on the mile, and try to run a sub-4:15 if I can,” he said.
Senior Kalen Sullivan of West Seneca West will appear in his fourth state meet in a row. He went in the 4x800 as a freshman and has won the 1,000 meters the last three years.
The section boasts a pair of 6-foot-6 high jumpers with junior Ted Okon of Clarence and senior Bill Adey of West Seneca West.
Senior Alex Reid of Lockport has the potential to finish among the top six in the long and triple jumps.
Devon Patterson of Williamsville South has the top shot put in the state, a Section VI record 64-4.75. He’ll be accompanied by two Lancaster throwers, Brandon Sicurella and Tony DeYoung. All three are juniors.
Kenmore East’s Gavin DiMaria brings his personal best of 14-foot-1 in the pole vault into states. Ryan Zielan of Clarence also qualified but he broke a bone at sectionals after landing awkwardly and saw his season come to a painful end.
In the sprints, the section’s top hope is senior Andy Smigiera of West Seneca East, who is coming off a memorable season in football.
GIRLS: Expectations will be high for McKayla Brooks of Frontier, who is ranked No. 1 in the state in the triple and long jumps. “As soon as I saw that on the computer, I was like, ‘oh my gosh, this is great,’ ” she said. “I just do what my coach says, and I reach out and pull my legs out and go for it. I’m so excited right now.”
It’s her third trip to Cornell and she’s only a sophomore. Brooks will also be busy looking to get into the 55 dash final. Chasing her down will be senior Lauren Sullivan and freshman Ashley Grazen of Lancaster.
Besides the 55, the section is also deep in the pole vault with state leader Jenn Thill, senior Megan Evans of Lockport and junior Madison Roberts of Iroquois.
Senior Brianna Colello of West Seneca West will run the 55 hurdles and lead off the Indians’ first-time state qualifying 4x400 relay.
Marissa Saenger of Clarence looks to get it done in the 3,000 and give the 4x800 a shot at a title.
The shot put has strong contenders with McKenzie Kuehlewind of Lancaster, Jessica Dhaliwall of Grand Island and Tia Robinson of Sweet Home.
If history repeats itself, that will be just fine with Courtney Bondanza. The Lancaster sophomore enjoyed tremendous success at last year’s New York State Gymnastics Championships. She won the vault for the second year in a row and led Section VI to the team title, its first since 2000.
She is one of 11 girls from Section VI who will compete at this year’s event on Saturday at Smithtown East High School in St. James on Long Island.
This year she’d like to win the all-around after finishing second a year ago. She’ll also be in the hunt for her second crown in the balance beam in what will be her fourth trip to states.
Also qualifying from Lancaster are Rachel Filipski and Mackenzie Donner. Senior Jenn Thill also qualified, but will not be competing because of the conflict with the state track and field championships.
Michaela Stumpf of Williamsville South and Jill Daddario of Sweet Home are the only seniors on the state team.
Also carrying the banner for the section will be Miranda Roberson (Williamsville South), Lily Szafranski (Williamsville South), Alexis Frankowski (Williamsville East), Anna Reyes (Williamsville East), Michaela Kacmarski (Frontier, alternate) and Samantha Miller (Hamburg, alternate).
All-American Jack Boyd is a heavy favorite to repeat as champion of the 200 and 500 freestyle in the Federation portion of the State Swimming and Diving Championships at Webster Schroeder High. The Canisius junior is the top seed in the 200 with an automatic All-America time of 1:38.55 and the 500 in 4:26.72. The Crusaders are a No. 5 seed in the 400 free relay.
It could be a long day for Section VI swimmers in the public school meet based on the psych sheet. The highest seed in a swimming event is Cameron MacDonald of Williamsville North, who is No. 8 in the 100 free and No. 9 in the 50. The top-seeded diver is Travis Wright of Lake Shore at No. 8.
Section VI will compete Saturday in the regionals at West Point.
The .22 caliber team has five veteran Alden shooters — Max Arnold, Alyson Sylvester, Matt Schaefer, Connor Budziszewski and Albert Boucher. Sylvester looks to win the kneeling for the second year in a row. She also excels as an air rifle shooter and could place there. The .22 cal all-stars are Rhianna Lechtenthal of Orchard Park and Mike Moore of Clarence.
Also shooting air rifle with Sylvester will be Arnold, Budziszewski, Schaefer and Katie Kaminski, all of Alden. The all-Stars are Sarah Kaiser of Kenmore and Moore.
“Valley Stream has won the regionals .22 / air or both for the past six years,” said Section VI Chairman and Alden coach Paul Borkowski. “They are always strong. I have no idea what kind of score they are firing this year, but we will try to give them a run.”