Butler's Paul finishes bowling season with state championship
Megan Paul went out on top.
The Butler senior wrapped up her high school bowling career with a girls singles state championship last weekend at the 222 Dutch Lanes in Ephrata.
Paul, who finished sixth in the state last year, was sharp from the start of the event. She bowled the highest game (267) and finished first overall in the qualifying round. That gave her an automatic bid to the championship, where she beat Lewisburg's Alexis Neuer, 212-183.
“She threw the ball tremendous all day. She made every shot she needed to make and made the majority of her spares. I think she had four missed spares all day,” Butler coach Bob Cupp said. “She got out front and stayed out front. She missed getting into the final round last year by one pin and that hit her hard and made her very motivated.
“She worked very hard and a state championship was the reward for her hard work.”
Paul's gold medal highlighted a successful trip for the Golden Tornado program. Senior MiKayla White and freshman Nicole Nebel also competed at the individual event. Butler's boys and girls squads competed at the team championships the following day as well.
“I can't express how proud I am of both teams. For them to compete the way they did in league play and getting to the state level and proving Butler is a power in Pennsylvania is great. They took great pride in that,” Cupp said. “Other teams respect what our players have brought to the table, their efforts and what they put into the season, especially.”
White captured a WPIAL Western Regional championship this year. Paul finished fourth at that event and Nebel was seventh.
“I was thrilled for MiKayla, she has been a hard worker as well,” Cupp said. “MiKayla was completely focused at the regional and limited her mistakes. She was very smart on the lanes and bowled beautifully. I couldn't ask for any more from those two seniors.”
As a team, Butler's girls finished fourth at the WPIBL championships, third at the regional and sixth at the state championship. The Golden Tornado boys were second at the WPIBL championships with a 3,080 — just behind Moon's 3,084. The squad finished third at the regional and sixth at the state championship.
“The progression the boys made this year was great. The second week, we took a beating against Armstrong. We thought that was a good wakeup for our boys,” Cupp said. “We threw the challenge out to them, and they accepted it. They got better and better every week and really came together.”
Butler's boys return all but senior Dan Bellis next year, including juniors Matt Wetzel, Hunter Lefever, Kyle Bintrim, Nick Bonomo and David Howell, sophomore Nick Huff and freshman Shawn Marcellus.
“They are very talented bowlers to begin with and now they see how high the bar is. They are not going to rest on what they've accomplished this year,” Cupp said. “They are already talking about what they have to do to get to the next level. This gives them a lot of momentum and they'll be hungry coming back.”
The Golden Tornado's girls graduate four seniors in Baylee Verner, Abby Bagley, Paul and White. Freshmen Ashley McCue and Nebel got a lot of experience this year.
“The girls were a little disappointed with their finish at states. Still, they were one of the 12 best teams in the state. They just had a tough time putting a complete day together, but they were solid,” Cupp said. “We'll be in a bit of rebuild mode next year. I look for Nicole to be a leader of the team. She grew a lot and learned a lot. We had some talented freshmen who got to go along and see what it was all about.
“We'll be young and some key people witnessed what it takes to compete at the state championships.”
Paul will continue her academic and athletic careers at Lindenwood University in Missouri.
It has one of the country's top bowling programs.
“She will be among the best bowlers in the country; she has the game to be at that level,” Cupp said. “She was a good bowler coming into this year, but she took her game to a new level. She spent some time working with a professional bowler on her game. For her to go to one of the best collegiate programs in the nation is pretty special.”
Joe Sager is a freelance writer.