Coming into the 2016-17 season the Maryvale High School bowling teams really weren’t totally sure what the new year would hold for them.
The boys lost eight members from a team that won the ECIC North Small School championship last year..
The girls, meanwhile, were starting life with a new coach and perhaps the youngest team is all of Section VI.
What they have found is that from day to day, bit by bit, the pieces are starting to fall into place.
“We graduated a lot of starters from last year so we have a lot of guys trying to fill that role from last year. Trying to step up and so far they’ve done well,” said Flyers boys’ coach J.J. Gabor.
Going a spotless 10-0 in league last year set the tone for success that all returning players wanted to maintain. But again, with so many players from that team having moved on, Gabor and his handful of returnees really weren’t sure what the new year would bring. A 3-0 start out of the gate was a pleasant surprise for everyone. And though that winning streak was snapped at the hands of Tonawanda who handed Maryvale a 6-1 loss when they met at the Tonawanda Bowling Center on Jan.11, the Flyers still have a positive feel about the season.
Thanks largely to the play of Braedon Suffoletta (199 average) and Chris Jankowski (198 average) who are part of the Flyers A-Team.
“They’ve been on the team for a few years and they understand what it takes to get to that level,” Gabor said.
“We definitely look to those guys to step up when we head into a match like this (against Tonawanda) because we do have a lot of younger bowlers so they need to see that those are the guys stepping it up.”
Ryan Lent (194) and Anthony Shauer (197) round out a powerful A-Team for the Flyers who also have that all important depth with Rich Saulter, Tyler Pilley, Lucas Machowski and Josiah Petz on the B-Team.
“I was thinking to myself ok this is my year. I can do good. I can help the team out,” said Suffoletta.
“I can do what I’m (expected) to do.”
Fully expecting to take their knocks, at least early on, Gabor said the influx of new bowlers have given them a strong team ready to compete and succeed.
The Lady Flyers are now being piloted by Rebecca Kent, Williamsville South Class of 2010, who was a standout bowler herself during her days with the Lady Billies.
A quick check of the math shows that of the 13 girls on the roster, only five are in high school. The other eight bowlers are comprised of seventh and eighth graders.
Kent was realistic with her girls from the start telling them that they would likely take their lumps this season. The key is to remain confident. Stay together and look for those little improvements each day, because little improvements will lead to big payoffs down the road.
The Flyers are led by their two seniors Haley Graczyk (162) and Madison Rogacki (177) who are part of the Lady Flyers A-Team.
Kent said that while the first season is a work in progress she is excited to be on the ground floor of a program with so much potential because she feels that she and the girls can grow together.
“We’re all on the same page,” said Kent.
The Lady Flyers also fell to Tonawanda by a 6-1 score and are 0-4 in league.