Gateway bowlers chasing post-season berth

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Sunday 16 January 2022 | 11:01 am


The Gateway varsity boys bowling team returned to work at the start of the season after all five starters from last year’s WPIBL playoff squad graduated.

But coach Joe Bowman said that with sophomore Alex Keeling-Oliver and senior Heath Chase, both JV players last year, leading the way, the Gators have shown battle and are in the mix for another WPIBL berth in the eastern section.

“Alex and Heath are bowling really well now and they will only get better for the rest of the season,” said Bowman.

“We also have three freshmen coming in who are growing and developing and doing really well for themselves. It’s rebuilding, but it’s growing. It’s a good thing.”

Gateway improved to 4-2 on the section with last Wednesday’s 7-0 win over Valley at New Great Valley Lanes in northern Versailles.

Keeling-Oliver entered the game with a team-best average of 182.93. He didn’t score his highest game for the season — that’s a 242 — but games of 199, 239 and 206 produced a season-best 644 series.

Chase produced a 219 top game and a 550 series as the Gators swept each of the three games and total pins as well.

“Both Alex and Heath have stepped into their new roles and are also great leaders for the team, especially the younger bowlers,” said Bowman.

Chase, who joined the bowling team as an activity last year after covid canceled Gateway’s winter percussion program, increased his season average to 174.9 to 18 games bowled.

“All the seniors last year provided a great atmosphere that inspired the learning,” Chase said.

“I really grew my game a lot last year and I think it’s paying off now. Every Sunday we have training and everyone in both teams helps and supports each other to get better. Everything we can do because every pin counts .”

Both Chase and Keeling-Oliver are in the mix to qualify for next month’s WPIBL Individual Championships. Those boys bowlers who finish at an average of 170 or better with at least 21 games bowled out of 30 games in the 10 regular season games earn berths for the championships.

The girls’ qualifying standards also remain the same as in previous seasons: 21 matches bowled with a score of 140 or better.

Freshman Landon Lohr added a 489 series in the win over Valley with a high game of 178, while fellow freshman Josh Zlokas scored a 406 series and an 181 high game.

Freshman Kai Jones and senior Larry Steale-Onyundo also contributed to the team victory.

The boys from Gateway are chasing Plum and Burrell for the top two spots in the East. The top two finishers in each boys’ and girls’ section automatically qualify for the WPIBL team final.

Bowman said another three, four or five teams in third place on the boys’ and girls’ side will qualify under a WPIBL playoff expansion this year.

The Gateway girls returned three with varsity experience, and those three—junior Gelsey Stone, senior Anyssa Keeling-Oliver and junior Jayla Chase—helped the Gators take a 5-2 win over Valley despite being shorthanded.

With only four in the lineup as opposed to the regular five, the Gators won two out of three games and also overall pins to improve to 5-1 on the season and hold onto second place in the Eastern section behind undefeated Plum.

Anyssa Keeling-Oliver fronted Gateway with a run of 571 and matches of 231, 159 and 181, bringing her season average of nine points to 150.

Both her series tally and her 231 game were season records.

Stone added a 477 series and a 175 high game. She leads the Gators with an average of 157.1.

“Anyssa and Gelsey work so hard and are two great leaders for this team,” said Bowman.

Gelsey had a 214 (game) and 541 series against Penn Hills last week. She now bowls juniors and travels competitions, and she really likes bowling.”

Sophomore Autumn Keeling-Oliver also contributed to the victories.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Michael via email at mlove@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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