Hempfield, Greensburg Salem bowling among favorites
To figure out the favorites for this weekend's Western Pennsylvania regional bowling championships, simply look at what's happened recently.
The Greensburg Salem boys and Hempfield girls won WPIBL titles two weeks ago and join the same group of teams they defeated at the regional team competition, which is Saturday at North Versailles Bowl.
The individual competition will take place today at the same site, when the top 74 boys and girls bowlers from the WPIBL in terms of average will compete against one another to qualify for the state championships.
Hempfield finished a close third to Greensburg Salem and Hopewell in the boys WPIBL championship, and the Spartans and Golden Lions will have all five of their starters compete for a regional title today.
Meanwhile, Hempfield cruised to the WPIBL girls championship, and four of the Spartans were in the top eight in the WPIBL in average this season. On top of that, Hempfield swept the boys and girls team regional championships last year.
"I'll be honest with you, my girls, I feel pretty confident my girls are going to win regionals again this year," Hempfield coach Dave Montell said. "It's just such a strong team, and they really don't have quite the competition the boys do. And, truthfully, my boys, if they keep their head in the game, there's no reason they shouldn't win."
For today's individual tournament, Hempfield will have Nick Vukovich, Jacob Garris, Cody Montell, Tony Santoro and Javon Trout competing for the boys. Greensburg Salem's Adam Weyandt, Logan Telford, Dylan Dirado, Ryan Zulisky and Adam Falkosky also will bowl for one of 12 spots in the state championship, which also will be at North Versailles Bowl on March 16 (individual) and March 17 (team).
Each individual bowler will roll three games today, and the top 12 finishers will be seeded into a playoff bracket and bowl one game, head-to-head, to compete for the regional title.
"We'll see how they match up out there, but they're all capable of making it to states," Greensburg Salem coach Greg Piper said. "They're all really good, and especially, they just won that (WPIBL) championship, so they have a lot of confidence right now going into it."
The same can be said for the Hempfield girls, who will have Justyne Falbo, Ashley Howe, Jen Zyvith and Cortney Weirs compete as individuals, while Tatiana D'Arata, Kayla Yusko and Molly Gaetano will bowl for Greensburg Salem.
They'll all bowl for their teams Saturday, as well, albeit in a different format. Each team will bowl three regular team games and six games in the Baker Format, which involves a team's five bowlers alternating frames in a single game. For instance, one bowler will throw the first and sixth frames, while another bowls the second and seventh frames, and so on.
The six teams with the highest total pinfall after all of those games earn berths to the team state championship.
"It's really harder than most people think, and the only time we bowl Bakers is when we go to regionals," Montell said. "That's one of the things we really practiced hard on, because it's just something totally different for the kids.
"I have two great teams," Montell added, "and as long as they bowl up to their potential, I feel very confident that they can win regionals. I really do."