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Armstrong bowling gets ball rolling

| Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, 1:01 a.m.

After weeks of Riverhawk sightings at the Belmont Ice Complex, the next new sighting of the blue and orange will be at King Lanes in Kittanning.

Final preparations are being made for the inaugural season of Armstrong bowling, the second sport that will mix players from Kittanning and Ford City under the banner of the new high school being built in the Armstrong School District.

There will be a boys and girls team for Armstrong, and both will compete in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Bowling League when it begins its season next month. As a club sport, the bowling program is responsible for raising nearly all of the money it will need for uniforms, lane fees and transportation, but the large amount of interest shown indicates that shouldn't be a problem.

“They had sign-ups at both high schools, and over 60 kids signed up,” Armstrong coach Tom Shaner said. “Officially, practice doesn't start until (Monday), but we've had a few get-togethers to see who is really interested, and we've had at least 20 kids at those.”

Armstrong is one of a handful of new teams this year in the WPIBL, which realigned into nine sections for the 2013-14 season.

The Riverhawks have been placed in Butler County-centered Section 2, where they will compete against Butler, Karns City, Knoch, Mars and Seneca Valley. A senior-led Butler team won the girls state championship last year, and Butler's boys program also reached states, which makes the Golden Tornado the program to beat in the section.

“We're really glad that most of our matches will be pretty close to home, and I think we'll have a good chance to compete in our first year,” Shaner said. “Butler should be pretty good, especially for boys, so we'll have some good matches.”

Shaner said his lineup decisions will be based on averages once official practices begin, which will allow him to put his best possible team on the lanes. He plans to have seven boys and seven girls for varsity matches, while there also are junior varsity matches that will give another five players the chance to compete.

“We hope to take 12 boys and 12 girls, if we get that many, for matches. That way, if somebody's having a bad day, we'll be able to sub someone in, and that can happen depending on the oil and lane conditions. Somebody might be bowling well in one house, and then you take them to another and they struggle,” Shaner said.

Before the team opens play on the road at Seneca Valley, it will need to continue raising money to fund its activities this season.

Shaner said he still is looking for donations from local businesses that would like to sponsor the program. The club plans to hang a banner to honor its sponsors at King Lanes, which has been a welcoming host for the newest Armstrong team.

“Funding is still a bit rough right now, but we have some places that are helping us,” Shaner said. “They seem eager to have us (at King Lanes), and we hope it will be a good first season for the team.”

Matt Grubba is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at mgrubba@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Grubba_Trib.

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