Burrell bowling teams off to strong start

Tuesday, December 28, 2021 | 10:22 AM

While most of the attention in winter sports is pointed at the basketball court and wrestling circles, there is another sport ramping up involving hundreds athletes competing on the hardwood.

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 are the Burrell Bucs.

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

“We’ve had some boys who were pretty good and have competed at states, and the girls have also made it as far as states,” Flanagan said. “Last year was probably our biggest year.”

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

“I had said that we’ve got to do this; I am all about the kids,” Flanagan said. “If I didn’t do it, who was going to do it? We did not want the team to dissipate or end in the school district.”

Now, it’s Flanagan’s daughter, Lydia, who is carrying on the bowling tradition. She is coming off an accomplished season as the defending WPIBL champion as well as the Western Regional singles champion.

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

Flanagan has started the season off well this year, leading Section 1 with a 217 average, 246 high game and 682 high series. But the Bucs have several more contributors who have aided their quick start.

Sophomore Leah McCandless has the third highest average and series at 187 and 603, respectively. Senior Jordan Cessna is fifth in average (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 already has posted a high game of 289, has a high series of 688 and owns a 227 average. Fellow seniors Michael Swanger (167 average), Alex Ross (163) and Christian Driscoll (146), along with freshman Tucker Bitar (186), are also contributing to the effort.

“We’ve got a lot of new boys this year,” Flanagan said. “Some of our new kids are already pretty good. Some have never bowled before, and they’re putting a lot of effort in.”

Unlike some other sports, bowling affords the opportunity for quick improvement.

“We’ve had many bowlers who come in and are not too bad, but have shown year over year the ability to get better,” Flanagan said. “Which is amazing; that’s what we’re there for.”

Plum and Gateway are the chief competition for Burrell in the section. The Bucs’ girls team has a three-point lead in the section over the Mustangs and are four ahead of the Gators. The boys are in a tie for first with Plum, and Gateway is 12 points in back of the leaders.


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