Burrell bowling teams off to a strong start

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Tuesday 28 December 2021 | 10:22 am


While most of the attention in winter sports is focused on the basketball court and wrestling circles, another sport is on the rise where hundreds of athletes compete on the hardwoods.

The WPIBL season is underway with several local teams competing on the lanes in high school bowling. There are team and individual championships to be won, and one of those teams looking for success in the 2021-22 season is the Burrell Bucs.

Seventh-year volunteer head coach Natalie Flanagan gave both the boys and girls teams of the Bucs a 3-0 start. Burrell has had great success during Flanagan’s tenure and may be looking to another promising season.

“We’ve had some guys who have been pretty good and competed in states, and the girls have made it into the states too,” Flanagan said. “Last year was probably our biggest year.”

Flanagan took the reins when her son Brenden was junior and a member of the team. Her son Colin was also a Burrell bowler. When the position became vacant, Flanagan felt the need to jump aboard and lead the Bucs.

“I said we should do this; I’m all for the kids,” Flanagan said. “If I didn’t do it, who would? We didn’t want the team to disappear or end up in the school district.”

Now it is Flanagan’s daughter, Lydia, who continues the bowling tradition. She is coming off a successful season as the defending WPIBL champion and the Western Regional singles champion.

“Lydia took the (WPIBL) championships and regional competitions, and no girl has ever done that,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan has started the season well this year, leading Section 1 with 217 averages, 246 high games and 682 high runs. But the Bucs have a few more employees that helped their quick start.

Sophomore Leah McCandless has the third highest average and run at 187 and 603, respectively. Senior Jordan Cessna averages fifth (156) and junior Victoria Schueler (134) is ninth.

The boys team also has a section leader in all three categories in senior Ryan Neville. He has already posted a high game of 289, has a high run of 688 and has an average of 227. Fellow seniors Michael Swanger (167 average), Alex Ross (163) and Christian Driscoll (146), along with freshman Tucker Bitar (186), also contribute to the effort.

“We have a lot of new guys this year,” Flanagan said. “Some of our new kids are already pretty good. Some have never bowled and put a lot of effort into it.”

Unlike some other sports, bowling offers the opportunity for rapid improvement.

“We’ve had a lot of bowlers come in and aren’t too bad, but have shown year after year that they can get better,” Flanagan said. “Which is great; that’s what we’re here for.”

Plum and Gateway are the main competition for Burrell in the section. The Bucs girls team has a three-point lead in the Mustangs section and a four-point lead over the Gators. The guys are level with Plum and Gateway is 12 points behind the leaders.

Tags: Burrell

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