Freeport bowlers look to defend section titles

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Monday, December 27, 2021 | 11:45 AM


Freeport bowling is synonymous with winning, as both the girls and boys teams captured section titles last year.

The girls posted a 10-0 record in 2020-21, placed fourth at the WPIBL championships, won the regional team championship and finished fourth at the state tournament.

The Yellowjackets are 3-0 this season with wins against Riverview, St. Joseph and Armstrong.

“The girls seem to have picked up where they left off,” coach Tom Livingston said. “I’m hopeful they can repeat that (10-0 record) this year.

The fifth-year coach added, “My expectations are for (the Freeport girls and boys) to perform to the best of their abilities while competing at something they enjoy.”

The starting five for the girls team consists of junior Julia Cummings, sophomore Mackensie Livingston, and seniors Crystal Lynn, Riley Troutman and Elizabeth Fischer.

Cummings placed 10th at the WPIBL singles tournament and 10th at regionals last year. This season, she has rolled a high game of 214 and a high series of 595.

Livingston, the coach’s daughter, finished 12th at the regional tournament last winter. She has tossed a high game of 236 and a high series of 617 in 2021.

The Yellowjackets are anchored by Cummings, a third-year varsity bowler who is serving as team captain this season.

“Hopefully, we can make it to states like we did in the past year,” she said.

The Freeport junior, who has a 3.8 GPA, said she started bowling when she was around 8 years old. She’s now “all in” when it comes to the sport.

Cummings competes in a junior league on Saturdays and a travel league every other Sunday. She also participates in local, state and national tournaments, as well as works part-time at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell.

Freeport’s boys team logged an 8-2 record in 2020-21 and garnered 11th place at the WPIBL championships.

The Yellowjackets were led a year ago by then-senior Mark Livingston, who was section MVP, league MVP, singles runner-up at the WPIBL championship, regional singles titlist and a fourth-place finisher at states.

The boys team has started out 2-1 with victories against Riverview and St. Joe’s.

“Five varsity boys graduated last year, so we are looking to rebuild the varsity team,” coach Livingston said. “The boys have surpassed our expectations thus far.”

This year’s starting five consists of freshman Colin Cummings, senior Benjamin Perka, junior Eli Abbott, sophomore Dylan Granata and junior Samuel Walsh.

“We have a newer team this year and are hoping we can qualify for regionals,” Cummings said.

The freshman athlete began bowling at age 7 with his parents “for fun.” He also participates in junior and travel leagues, rolled his first 800 series this year and chalked up two 299 games.

The Cummings siblings, Colin and Julia, lead the way for the Yellowjackets with averages of 206.2 and 194.8, respectively.

So, which of the siblings would win in a roll-off between the two?

“Colin does have a better average than me,” Julia said, “but I would say it just depends on the day. I don’t think I really could say or pick one of us.”

All Colin would say is, “My average is higher than hers at the moment.”

Both bowlers credit their father as being the person to get them so heavily invested in the sport.

“My dad is a really good bowler,” Julia said. “He bowled in a Friday classic league, and his average was 210. He is also one of the high school bowling coaches (at Freeport). I love having him there as a coach with me.”

Colin said their mom enjoys her time on the lanes, as well.

While Cummings leads the way for the girls team, Livingston is a viable complement with a 188 average. Granata (171.8) and Perka (160.3) rank second and third average-wise on the boys team.

Both Freeport squads are members of the Section 5 Northeast Division and utilize Wildlife Lanes as their home base. Section opponents are Apollo-Ridge, Armstrong, Franklin Regional, Riverview and St. Joseph.

Coach Livingston stresses to his bowlers the lifelong values that are attached to the sport.

“If the team members show up, put in the effort and have fun, they will learn sportsmanship and the value of teamwork,” he said.

“I hope that team members will learn to enjoy a sport they can play for the rest of their lives.”

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