Thursday February 21, 2013 | By:Michael J. Petro | Sports
Section VI Boys Bowling champions, Frontier (above) as a team and Eden’s Andrew Herbert (above top) individually were crowned at the state qualifying competition on Feb. 15 at Thruway Lanes. (Photos by Michael J. Petro)
Andrew Herbert knew if he bowled around his division-leading 212 average, he’d have a good opportunity to get back to the state championships.
The Eden senior exceeded that expectation right from the first of his six games and played consistent enough throughout the day to wind up in the winner’s lane by the end of the Section VI Championships.
Herbert rolled a 1,376, good for a 229 average over six games, to take the individual title competing among 370 bowlers and 50 schools Friday (Feb. 15) at Thruway Lanes. He bounced back from a few bad frames at the start to salvage Game One with a 240, then his 742 put him in a lead after the morning session that he would hold on to throughout the day.
“After going to states last year and being around for a while, I was one of the favorites coming in and I knew that if I bowled just average for me that I had a good shot and I bowled above average for the first three games,” Herbert said of his solid start. “And I was right there in the last three (games).... I was thinking just grind out the next three games and make the team.”
Every year since he first joined Eden’s varsity in the seventh grade, Herbert has been working harder and harder and getting better and better. Last year marked a big step by making the sectional team that competed at states and this season the ECIC South Small School division leader took off.
“I’m pretty sure this is a dream come true for him,” Eden head coach Jason Bernadone said. “His ambition since he’s been bowling in seventh grade was to come out on top in his senior year. I give him all the credit in the world for seeing that come to fruition.”
As talented of a bowler that Herbert has become, what Bernadone can’t help but rave about is the bowler’s character, work ethic and team-first attitude.
“He looks at how the team finishes first and how he bowls second,” Bernadone said of Herbert. “From top to bottom, Andrew works harder than any other bowler I know of. He eats and sleeps bowling. He’s a high honor roll student and has got no ego — he checks it at the door. He’s the all-around bowler that a coach would hope and wish for.”
Herbert helped Eden take first in Class C for a second straight year at sectionals and eighth overall. Last year, the Raiders finished second overall.
After finishing second to Lackawanna in the division and in the middle of the pack at all of their tournaments during the season, in addition to losing their second best bowler, Dakota Sheffield, who moved down south early in the season, Bernadone was pleasantly surprised. Other seniors leading this group included Dan Scheffler, Bert Edwards, Randy Goettel and Jim Ehrig.
Last year at states, Herbert helped Section VI win a team title. This year, he’s hoping to do the same and at least place, if not win the event, individually.
Again, Herbert will be joined there by Frontier’s Chad Mee but this time, the junior gets to go with all of his Falcons’ teammates.
Frontier had all of the ingredients of a champion with an elite bowler in Mee and some of the best depth in Western New York coming into the Section VI Championships. What the Falcons may have lacked earlier in the season as far as team togetherness was all but a memory by the time they rolled their first ball at the state qualifier.
Led by Mee’s 1,368, the top scorer among seven contributing bowlers and second-place finisher overall to Herbert, Frontier pulled it together as a group to win the overall Section VI boys title and advance as a squad to the state competition.
“I knew they had the potential to win the whole thing,” said Frontier’s first-year head coach John Cordier, after he watched his team finish off another division title and unbeaten season in ECIC I. “There was a little bit of individual attitude, so the whole key was getting them to function as a team and play for one another and they wound up ultimately coming together at the right time to do it.”
Mee went through some struggles in the morning but came on strong in the afternoon to fall just eight pins short of Herbert. But the two-time defending state-qualifier was just happy that he’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the experience this year with his teammates.
“We’ve really grown together as a team,” Mee said. “It’s going to be fun having a whole weekend together. We went off each other’s momentum today, picked each other up and made our spares at the end. It really came together...We’ve had a very good team every year since I’ve been on the team. One of these years, I knew we were going to put it together.”
Frontier was aided by the effort of sophomore Bryan Carson, who finished 10th overall with a 1,246, and junior Matty Kinn, who was 14th with a 1,237. Senior Vinny Walesczak came in as a sub in Game Two and never left the lanes. Walesczak and Jacob Johns-Sargent are the only seniors among a still young squad. Juniors Nick Brooks and Justin Thomas also contributed.
“Unfortunately, only seven guys can bowl,” Cordier said. “If they would have allowed me to carry the whole team of 12, then we would have had all 12 participate because, really, they’re all that good.”
“We had other guys who stepped in and picked us up and then it reversed in the afternoon,” he added. “Our top guys really came through and that’s what clinched it for us.”