Plum bowlers ready to battle section foes
Jerry Yushinski is not far removed from competing for the Plum varsity bowling team.
The 2011 Plum graduate was a multiyear varsity performer for the Mustangs, and as a senior, he helped the Plum boys squad reach the WPIBL team tournament, finish second at the Western Regional Championships and earn an eighth-place finish at states.
This season, Yushinski returns to the team in a different role as one of its coaches, and, he said, he's excited to see what this year's squads can do, both in the WPIBL and beyond.
“I am really proud of how hard the teams are working,” Yushinski said.
“They both have a good opportunity to go into the postseason and do well.”
Yushinski's main focus is the boys team, and he will work with new head coach Cliff Kirchartz on the overall management of both squads.
Kirchartz takes over as head coach for longtime Mustangs coach Jim Tomlinson, who stepped away after the 2011-12 campaign concluded.
Yushinski said working with the Plum players has helped him become a better coach and bowler.
“It's definitely a challenge sometimes, as the bowlers sometimes see me more as a peer than as a coach, but things are going well so far,” he said. “I am able to look at things now from a different perspective and see things about the game I didn't see when I was just a bowler.
“Knowing a lot of the kids for years made it easier to work on things with them. I've seen their strengths and weaknesses before and have been able to work on them right away.”
The boys team is younger this year after eight bowlers — including the top two section finishers in average, Bobby Stewart and Sam Cooper — graduated.
Last year, Plum finished seventh at the WPIBL championship tournament, placed fourth at regionals and took fifth at states.
“We lost some strong bowlers, but we have some guys coming back that can make this team strong,” Yushinski said.
Returning to form the core of the varsity team this year are junior co-captains Joshua Kirchartz and Danny Yushinski. Kirchartz averaged 200.48, with a high game of 247, in 27 section games last season, while Danny Yushinski averaged 195.74 in 23 section games and had a 227 high game.
“This is such a young team after having an big experienced group the past two seasons,” coach Yushinski said. “Everyone has stepped up and gone the extra mile.”
Senior Zach Matthews and junior Adam Matthews also are back after both competed on the JV team last year, and seniors Jai Major and Matt Kosmack, coach Yushinski said, will challenge for spots on varsity.
The Plum girls team will have a more veteran look to it this year, as five of the top seven varsity members return from last year, including senior co-captains Jocelyn Rubash and Alexa Nicholas.
Rubash finished fourth in the Northeast section in average with a 176.27 for 30 games bowled, while Nicholas finished with a 170.86 average for 29 games.
Also back are senior Heather Kosmack, senior Shannon Purcell and sophomore Kristen Ankers.
As a team, the Plum girls finished eighth at the 2012 WPIBL tournament, took fourth at regionals and punched their ticket to states.
“The girls team looks like it will be pretty competitive right out of the gate,” coach Yushinski said.
Also hoping to make an impact on varsity, coach Yushinski said, are freshmen Alexandria Dick and Talia Pilyih.
Plum again will compete with Gateway, Penn Hills, Woodland Hills, St. Joseph and Burrell in the Northeast section.
The Mustangs begin their season Wednesday against rival Penn Hills at Nesbit's Lanes in Plum. All matches this season are set to begin at 3:30 p.m.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.