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Plum earns runner-up finish at league team tournament

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By Michael Love

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Western Regional team bowling championships is March 9 at North Versailles Bowl, and the Plum girls squad enters the event with a lot of momentum after a runner-up finish to Hempfield at the WPIBL championships last Thursday at West Pike Lanes in Canonsburg.

“I couldn't have been more proud of the girls,” head coach Cliff Kirchartz said.

“They picked up every spare they possibly could and did a fantastic job.”

Plum, one of two qualifying teams from the Northeast section, rolled a three-game team series of 2,675.

The Mustangs started with a 784 but then scored a 947 in game two and a 944 in game three.

“We didn't have our best game in the first game, but we regrouped for the second and third games,” Kirchartz said.

Hempfield won its sixth straight WPIBL team title since 2008, and the Spartans finished with 2,809 pins.

They were the only team to roll three 900-plus games, and the lowest individual game score was 167.

“They (Hempfield) are known as a bowling factory, and they pump out good bowlers year after year,” Kirchartz said.

“It all starts with your bowling center and what kind of youth program it has. They must have a great youth program. It's the same way with Plum and Penn Hills at Nesbit's (Lanes in Plum). Rich Nesbit does a phenomenal job keeping the kids involved and making sure they want to come back and bowl.”

Senior Jocelyn Rubash led the way for Plum with a 623 series. She improved as her series progressed, with a 179 in game one, a 213 in game two and a 231 in game three.

Freshman Talia Pilyih added a 548 series (156-191-201), while fellow freshman Allie Dick recorded a 523 series (135-212-176).

Rounding out the varsity team for Plum were senior Alexa Nicholas with a 512 series (169-166-177) and senior Heather Kosmack with a 469 series (145-165-159).

Plum will be gunning for another strong finish at regionals, and Bethany Labertew and Kristen Ankers will move into the lineup in place of Kosmack and Dick, who will be with the Plum High School band on its trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.

“Bethany and Kristen both will do a fine job,” Kirchartz said.

The Plum girls won the 2007 regional championship, finished third in 2008, made the finals in 2009 and were eighth in 2010.

After missing the regional tournament in 2011, the Mustangs came back and took fourth in 2012.

The Plum boys team won the Northeast section title, but the Mustangs didn't fare as well as they had hoped at the WPIBL tournament on Feb. 20 at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell.

The team placed ninth with 2,551 pins.

“Even though they finished in ninth, they were only a 140 pins out of a medal (top three),” Kirchartz said.

“It wasn't as far off as one would think. The boys ended up with 23 splits over the three games, which is an unbelievable number of splits. It doesn't give you a chance to pick up many spares when you throw that many splits. We tried to make adjustments, but it just seemed like another split was waiting for us. You figure that if you eliminate half of those and pick up your spares, you're right in medal contention.”

Junior Josh Kirchartz led the Plum boys with a 585 series (221-200-164), and fellow junior Dan Yushinski added a 558 series (195-214-149).

Also scoring on varsity were seniors Dalton Novak (466 series), Zach Matthews (454 series) and Matt Kosmack (137 and 147 games) and junior Cody Frisco (204 game).

The Plum boys return to regionals after placing fourth there last year and second in 2011.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at




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