Gateway bowlers ready to battle section rivals
Andrew Smith is no stranger to the returning bowlers on the Gateway boys and girls bowling teams, as he served as an assistant coach to his father, Rick, for two seasons.
He takes over as head coach this season, and the 2008 Gateway graduate and former Gators bowler said he's excited to see what the teams can accomplish.
“It's been a pretty good experience so far,” said Smith, who graduated from Slippery Rock University in May and is a substitute teacher in the East Allegheny and McKeesport school districts.
“There is a good commitment to the team from the bowlers. I think my education experience has helped me in coaching. I think I have built a rapport with the bowlers the last couple of years.”
Smith said he has seen strong improvement from both the returning bowlers and the competitors new to the program.
The Gateway girls teams is anchored by a core of returning juniors in Tori Smith, Angela Chusko and Morgan Sayre.
Smith led all bowlers in the Northeast section last year with a 186.30 average in 27 section games.
Chusko wasn't far behind, as she averaged 184.52 for 27 games, and finished second in the section rankings.
Sayre ranked eighth in the section with a 171.95 average for 22 games.
Smith, Chusko and Sayre were three of six Gateway girls bowlers who qualified for the Western Regional individual tournament, and the Gators went undefeated (10-0) in the section and placed fourth out of 16 at the WPIBL team tournament.
Gateway took third at the Western Regional tournament and was one of six teams to qualify for states.
The Gators were fifth at states and were the third-ranked team from the WPIBL behind state champion Hempfield and third-place Butler.
Senior Cassie Doege, who bowled two varsity games and was primarily a JV player in 2011-12, will join junior Rachel Hodes, a JV player last season, in increased roles this season, coach Smith said.
“I look for them to step up their games and help the varsity,” coach Smith said.
Freshman bowler Andrea Newhams also is expected to make an impact.
The Gateway boys team finished third in the section last year behind Plum and Penn Hills and missed the WPIBL tournament.
Several seniors were lost to graduation, and junior Jon McAnany is the only varsity or JV player back from last year's team.
McAnany finished with a 169.41 average through 22 varsity games bowled.
“We are looking for him to improve and lead this team,” coach Smith said.
McAnany will front a group of new bowlers, including senior Brandon Castleberry, junior Dylan Shumaker, sophomores Jared Sheffler and Nick Crawford and freshmen Bailey Diggins and Ryan Skladany.
“This is a new team, and some might not expect them to do great, but I think they can do well and battle with other teams in the section,” coach Smith said.
Gateway will play its home matches this season at New Great Valley Lanes in North Versailles, and the Gators open their season next Wednesday at home against Burrell.
All section matches begin at 3:30 p.m.
Also back in the section this season are Penn Hills, Plum, Woodland Hills and St. Joseph.
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.