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Gateway girls senior trio leads team to top of standings

| Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Lillian DeDomenic | For The Times Express
Gateway senior bowlers, from left, are Morgan Sayre, Tori Smith and Angela Chusko.

For the past several seasons, a trio of standout bowlers has stood at the heart of the Gateway varsity girls bowling team.

Tori Smith, Angela Chusko and Morgan Sayre have achieved team and individual success with the Gators, and they have helped this year's squad to an undefeated record through eight weeks of the regular season.

Gateway was in first place in Section 5, two games ahead of Serra Catholic, after week eight.

“They've been through so much and have that experience, so they aren't stressed about where they are and what they need to do to be section champions or win any other tournaments,” Gateway head coach Drew Crawford said.

“They just want to go out and bowl the best that they can. They have been pretty consistent each week and are not looking too far ahead. The younger girls see that confidence and follow their lead.”

Younger players such as sophomores Morgan Shumaker and Jennica Hagerich and freshman Lexi Flock have benefitted from the experience, Crawford said.

Smith and Chusko are second and third in individual averages in Section 5 through week eight, as both hold averages close to 200.

Sayre is right there in the top 10 for average in the section. She is eighth (165).

“They don't rest on past success, and they have learned from tough moments,” Crawford said.

“They are not satisfied with where they are. They want more.”

Gateway has clinched a spot in the WPIBL team playoffs set for Feb. 27.

“The seniors have helped the girls team take things one game at a time, one match at a time and one week at a time,” Crawford said.

Last year, the Gateway girls missed the WPIBL team playoffs after finishing third to Plum and Penn Hills in section play.

But Smith, Chusko and Sayre qualified for the Western Regional Singles Championships. Smith finished third in the qualifying round and made it to the semifinals of the stepladder playoffs.

At states, Smith was second after the qualifying round and bowled in the state-championship match against Hempfield's Justyne Falbo.

Falbo denied Smith's state-title hopes with a 234-187 victory.

The trio helped the Gators qualify for the WPIBL championships as sophomores, and the team finished fourth behind Hempfield, Butler and North Allegheny.

Gateway was only one pin behind the Tigers for third.

The Gators squad then placed third at the Western Regional team championships and qualified for states. It was a busy state-championship weekend in 2012, as Smith also bowled there individually.

Gateway took fifth at states in 2012, while Smith added a fifth-place finish in the singles competition.

Smith, Chusko and Sayre were new to the team as freshmen in 2011, and they contributed to the Gators' third-place finish at the WPIBL championships.

The team suffered heartbreak at regionals, as it placed seventh, one position away from a state-qualifying spot.

The Gateway boys and girls teams were slated to face Serra Catholic in week-nine contests Wednesday afternoon. The matches were to be completed past the deadline for this week's edition.

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. Reach him at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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