Hempfield bowling teams again leading section standings
In his fifth year as the Hempfield boys and girls bowling coach, Dave Montell has known nothing but success.
Winning three combined state championships in that span — two girls and one boys title — the Spartans have consistently been one of Pennsylvania's top programs.
The 2014 season appears to be no different, as both teams sit atop of their respective WPIBL Section 1 standings at 7-0.
While many factors have contributed to Hempfield's strong season, Montell credits the depth of each squad that allows him to shift lineups on a game-by-game basis.
“Most coaches will tell you they have a varsity team and a JV team,” he said. “I don't think I have a varsity team and JV team because I can swap my kids and never miss a beat. So I never use the term JV with my team.
“It's been like that all five years. I've always had talent that I can fall back on.”
While each team is deep, each roster also features top-end talent. The girls team boasts last season's Western Regional runner-up in senior Cortney Weirs, while the boys team features junior Javon Trout.
Trout, also a standout on the Hempfield golf team, has taken the cerebral approach that makes him so successful on the course over to the bowling lanes.
“Most of it is his mental game,” Montell said. “He has good physical ability in both golf and bowling but his mental game, he just understands the game so well.”
Trout, along with junior Benjamin Carr and freshman Josh Bittner, have led a young Spartans boys team to an unblemished record that has even come as a bit of a surprise to the head coach.
“It's been a really good year, especially with the boys,” Montell said. “The boys have actually impressed me. I didn't expect my boys team to be as strong as they are this year. They've been doing a great job.”
Along with Weirs, the girls team features strong bowlers in seniors Rachel Inks, Alysia Dube and Natalie Herman.
Montell and the Spartans hope to ultimately win state titles this season, but until the playoffs begin at the end of the month, Montell has another goal he would like to reach.
“My goal from now until playoffs begin would just be undefeated in our section,” he said. “You can ask any kids that have ever bowled for me, I have always stressed that I love being an undefeated section champ more than I like just being a section champ.”
While having an undefeated record is something Montell is pleased with, the stat that he looks at most is his team's game average. With the boys team averaging 1,078 per game and the girls averaging 940, each number ranks the Spartans first in their respective leagues.
“That's the important number for me,” Montell said. “That's one that I take more serious than anything because if we're averaging that many pins per game, there's no reason we can't beat everybody in the league.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.