Penn-Trafford’s Balest, Latrobe’s Gatto lead their teams to WCCA bowling titles

Monday, January 24, 2022 | 7:59 PM

The Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association held its first bowling championship Monday, and it was met with joy.

The WCCA recently put together the championship, which was held at Lincoln Lanes in Latrobe.

Penn-Trafford junior Alyssa Balest took home the girls individual honor, and Latrobe senior James Gatto grabbed the boys title. Both helped their teams to the title.

Balest took control in the third game with a 236 to finish with a 626 series. The Warriors finished with a 2,423 team score.

Kiski Area’s Veronica Flanagan finished second with a 600, which helped the Cavaliers to a close second-place finish with 2,416.

But strong performances by Mikayla Uranker and Abigail Veycheck helped the Warriors hold off the Cavaliers. Uranker placed third with a 566, including games of 213 and 211, and Veycheck was seventh with a 517 series, which included a 192 game.

“I had some issues in my first two frames, and then I finally picked it up at the end to get a 201,” Balest said. “The second game I had another issue, but I brought it back for a 189 and then the last game I figured it all out and finished with a 236.

“I’m very happy with my performance. It’s pretty cool. It was a really good experience for me. I’m really happy with how it played out. We thought we were out of it. But we managed to pull it out.”

Hempfield’s Cassandra Bromke placed fourth with a 537, and Latrobe’s Ayden Leone was fifth with a 537.

Latrobe’s Vannessa McMichael ended up sixth with a 518, and the Kiski Area trio of Savannah Renwick (502), Haley Zeller (482) and Alyssa Leya (479) rounded out the top 10.

Gatto started strong, rolling a 249 in his first game and a 244 in his second. He finished with a 696.

Dom Vallano of Hempfield was second with a 674, and Latrobe’s Alex Brubaker was third with a 669.

The Wildcats finished with 3,094, and Hempfield was second with a 3,042.

“It was fun and a good time,” Gatto said about winning his first county title. “I just kept throwing and rolled my heart out. I did what I know what to do: I made my spares when I had to and struck when I could.

“I was pretty consistent until the end. I felt good overall. I loved winning. I didn’t know they were going to have a county tournament until a few weeks ago. This means the world. This is what I hoped for. I couldn’t sleep last night because I was so excited to compete.”

The Wildcats finished with five bowlers in the top 10. The others were Robert Phillips, who finished seventh at 596, Jay Markowsky, who finished eighth at 579, and Cole Pfeifer, 10th with a 554.

“It was pretty big for my team,” Gatto said. “It was also big for me. I made shots, and I did what I could for us to win.”

Hempfield’s Vincent Mincucci placed fourth with a 658, Greensburg Central Catholic’s Mike Mullaney was fifth with a 640 and Hempfield’s Ryan Schuck was sixth with a 629. Penn-Trafford’s Trent McCoy ended up ninth with a 570.

Three teams did not compete for different reasons: Greensburg Salem, Franklin Regional and Burrell.

Paul Schofield is a TribLive reporter covering high school and college sports and local golf. He joined the Trib in 1995 after spending 15 years at the Daily Courier in Connellsville, where he served as sports editor for 14 years. He can be reached at

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