Greensburg Central Catholic’s Mullaney taking game to new level with regional bowling title

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022 | 10:30 AM


On the day Mike Mullaney won a bowling title, his high school coach at Greensburg Central Catholic suggested he take a bit of time away to reflect and refresh.

Hours later, Don Yuhouse walked into Hillview Bowling Lanes on East Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg to visit his son, Aaron, the pro shop manager, when he was overwhelmed with the sight of the 15-year-old Mullaney standing around the lanes, bowling ball in hand.

“He’s in such a groove right now,” Yuhouse said. “When he won that tournament, I was so excited for him. I hugged him and said, ‘Man, I love you.’ ”

Mullaney, who planned to travel to Newark, Del., over the weekend to participate in a junior national tournament, was coming off an impressive victory at the Western Pennsylvania regional boys singles championships March 4 at North Versailles Bowling Center.

“The kid is smooth. He’s on his way,” Yuhouse said. “He has a lot to learn, like bowling is 90% mental and you must keep your temper under control. He’s only 15, but already he’s probably the most advanced sophomore we’ve ever had.”

Mullaney ranked fifth after the five-game qualifying series with a score of 1,027 and high game of 224. He then topped the 200 mark in four successive games in the step-ladder finals.

It came shortly after Mullaney missed qualifying for the step-ladder finals by just five pins at the WPIBL boys singles championship.

“It’s one of those things where you feel like you’re on top of the world,” Mullaney said. “I’ve never been in that position. You know you can do it. It’s just a matter of executing.”

After qualifying for the regional step-ladder finals, he survived a four-man first-round match, bowling a 201 to top Butler’s Rocco Rice (180), Montour’s Maxwell Vermeulen (179) and Bishop Canevin’s Jonathan Bernotas (133).

A 222-199 victory over Vincent Mincucci of Hempfield in the quarterfinals was followed by a 241-215 upset of top seed Trevon Scott of Steel Valley in the semifinals.

Then, in the finals, Mullaney defeated his second Hempfield bowler of the day, Dominick Vallano, 220-182.

“My grandfather (Dave Righino of Hempfield) bowled in a league,” Mullaney said. “He really was the one who taught me first how to bowl, how to throw the ball, how to slide, how to make sure everything I’m doing is stable so it’s repeatable.

“Just like golf, bowling is a game of repetition.”

Mullaney, whose family lives in South Greensburg, began school in the Greensburg Salem system before transferring to Greensburg Central Catholic before the start of his freshman year.

He has played baseball, golf and tennis in the past but quickly is finding out that bowling is his game.

“I think this year I’m going to double down on bowling,” he said, explaining that his hope is to get into the summer tournament circuit. “My game is nowhere near where it needs to be if I’d want to take a shot at bowling in college. It’s going to take a lot of work.”

Mullaney appears to be on the right track, seemingly willing to take advantage of any opportunity that comes along, such as practicing at Hillview even though earlier in the day he’d bowled competitively.

Yuhouse likened Mullaney’s thought process to a basketball player returning to the gym after a game to work on various aspects, such as shooting and ballhandling.

“When he won that tournament, it totally shocked me,” Yuhouse said. “Not that he’s not capable, because he’s so dedicated. He’s really become devoted to bowling. I thought, ‘Wow, one of these days …’ He’s been developing and maturing. You have to be there to experience it. He’s been there and now has the desire and the heart to want to be the best.”

Yuhouse, GCC’s longtime bowling coach in his 26th year, laughed while recalling a conversation with Mullaney shortly after the regional event.

“I’ve maybe had five or six bowlers in my career that were capable of doing what he did,” Yuhouse said. “The tournament wasn’t set up like that. Mike came to me and said, ‘I’m breaking records, Mr. Yuhouse.’ I said, ‘No, you’re setting them.’ ”

Mullaney has become a close friend of Aaron Yuhouse, who won three bowling league MVP awards at GCC from 2000-04. He hopes to make the same impact as Yuhouse did on the lanes.

Don Yuhouse, like his son, is among Mullaney’s biggest supporters.

“It’s like what Mike has been saying about Aaron,” Don Yuhouse said. “Now, other kids will come through and say, ‘I want to do what Mike Mullaney did.’”

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