Passionate bowlers have Gateway boys team expecting successful season

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Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 11:01 AM


With the whole starting lineup returning for the Gateway boys bowling team, expectations have shifted from just participating to competing with the top teams and bowlers in the WPIBL.

The Gators will be led by senior Alex Keeling-Oliver, who finished ninth in the WPIBL East section last year with a 183.03 average with a high game of 257 and 596 top series.

Keeling-Oliver led the way with a 543 series in the WPIBL boys team championship tournament last year, where the Gators finished 15th out of 24 teams.

In the WPIBL singles tournament, Keeling-Oliver finished 86th with a 492 series. Keeling-Oliver ended up finishing 71st with a 782 five-game series at the Western Regional tournament.

Junior Allon Wallace Jr. will also be returning for the Gators this season. Wallace Jr. finished with a 175.53 average last season and a 493 series in the WPIBL team tournament.

In the WPIBL singles tournament, Wallace Jr. finished 67th with a 536 series.

Juniors Josh Zlokas and Landon Lohr also return as they posted a 523 series and 513 series, respectively, in the WPIBL tournament last season.

“The thing about these kids is that they are really addicted to the game and they are really passionate about it,” coach Joe Bowman said. “They put in tons of practice time. I don’t know how many games they bowl a week, but I would be surprised if it’s not more than 60 games a week.

“There are a lot of interchangeable parts. Depending on where we’re bowling and the conditions, I can move people around.”

Juniors Joe Jurczak and Kai Jones look to also play a factor in the Gators’ success this season.

Bowman is looking forward to the continued development of sophomore Chase Owens, who averaged 150.65 in the East section last season.

The boys team qualified for the WPIBL team tournament after finishing with an 8-2 record, which was good enough for second place behind 9-1 Plum.

With their 15th-place finish at the WPIBL team championships, the Gators qualified for the Western Regional tournament, where they finished 12th with 3,450 total pins, which was 129 pins shy of a top 10 finish.

This season, the girls team only has three bowlers on the roster, including seniors Gelsey Stone and Autumn Keeling-Oliver.

Stone, the team captain, finished fourth in the girls East division with a 156.73 average for 30 games.

At the WPIBL singles championship, Stone finished tied for 38th with a 454 series. In the Western Regional, Stone finished tied for 52nd with a five-games series of 736.

Bowman has been leading the New Great Valley junior bowling program with his wife for close to two decades. He hasn’t seen this amount of interest on his high school bowling team to participate in the junior program in years past, which only provides hope for the future of the Gateway bowling program.

“Seventy-five percent of my starting lineup will bowl in the junior league,” Bowman said. “If you’re going to get serious about bowling, this is where you’re going to get that extra practice time and extra time bowling. In the past, I never really had that where I had the participation in the junior program.”

Gateway will compete in the East section that includes Plum, Penn Hills, Redeemer Lutheran, Valley and Franklin Regional.

The Gators were scheduled to start their season against Penn Hills at New Great Valley on Nov. 29.

“It’s going to be a competitive year,” Bowman said. “There’s a lot of competitive teams out there. We are just planning on being one of them.”

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