Plum, Freeport bowling teams take on U.S. in tournament

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | 7:23 PM

The high school bowling seasons for the Plum boys and girls teams and the Freeport girls team didn’t end in March at the state championships.

All three extended their runs to this past weekend and faced the best from the country at the U.S. High School Bowling Foundation’s National Championships at Leisure Lanes in Lancaster.

“It was my first year going,” said Plum senior Mareana Pilyih, who finished fourth overall in the girls singles tournament Sunday and Monday.

“I had made it in the past, but I never ended up going because it wasn’t held around here or in Pennsylvania. It was exciting to be able to do pretty well against some really good bowlers from other states.”

Plum and Freeport bowlers were familiar with Leisure Lanes as it was the site of this year’s state tournament.

In Pennsylvania, each team that qualified for the state tournament also was invited to compete at nationals.

Plum was among a select group of programs with boys and girls teams in action.

The Gateway boys squad was the only other team representing the WPIBL.

“It was a great feeling to have both teams there,” Plum coach Daryl Pilyih said. “We knew at the beginning of the year the girls team was going to be strong, and the boys team had to do some work. They put in the time and effort and really surprised a lot of people. Both teams did extremely well all season. I am very proud of them.”

This was the eighth national postseason tournament. In addition to the several Pennsylvania teams in action, there were teams representing Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, New York, New Jersey, Oregon, Louisiana, Kentucky, Florida, Iowa, Alaska, Maryland, Texas, Missouri, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Indiana and Massachusetts.

Foot surgery at the beginning of May kept coach Pilyih from making it to the tournament, but Plum assistants Ty Kirkpatrick, Bob Small and Rich Grilli were on hand to guide the squads.

“The teams were in good hands. They are three of the best assistants you could find,” he said.

Mareana Pilyih was on her game in the singles competition Sunday and Monday as she averaged 219.4 through 10 games, from the qualifying round to the fourth survivor round.

She made the final four, scoring a 213 in her last game. The second- and third-place finishers also were from Pennsylvania, but Maggie Porter from Cambridge High School in Wisconsin was the girls’ titlist with a 248 in the championship match.

“There were a lot bowling at a high level, but I was able to keep up with them,” Pilyih said. “You had to shoot a 230 to win. Being consistent was the most important thing.”

The top eighty girls advanced past the qualifying round out of 190 in the singles tournament.

Freeport senior Mackensie Livingston earned a top-20 finish as she placed 17th overall with an eight-game average of 206 and a 232 high game to kick off the four-game qualifying round.

Plum sophomore Addison Then took 23rd with a 247 high game to her credit.

Freeport sophomores Kylie McConahy (34th), Hannah Windows (54th) and Olivia Svitek (79th) also made it past the qualifying round. McConahy rolled games of 245 and 246 in the qualifying round to finish with a four-game total of 866.

Pilyih said it was nice for her and her teammates to share the national-tournament stage with the girls from Freeport.

“Our girls are very close with Freeport, and we happened to be by them (on the lanes) throughout the team tournament and then even for singles,” she said.

“It was nice to hang out with them and talk about things and just have people there that we knew pretty well. We wanted to win, but we also were able to support and encourage each other.”

Plum and Freeport were among the 16 girls teams that advanced from the qualifying to the survivor rounds. The Yellowjackets, with their scores from the two traditional team rounds and nine baker games, finished 14th. The Mustangs were one spot behind in 15th.

On the boys side, Plum made it past the team qualifying rounds to the first survivor round but was not able to advance any further. The Mustangs placed 10th overall and were the third Pennsylvania team in the standings behind Dallastown (fifth) and Conestoga (eighth).

“Every one of them contributed to the team finish,” Coach Pilyih said. “When someone was down, someone else was there to pick them up.”

Junior Cade Shimmer, who averaged 218.10 during the WPIBL regular season, led the Plum boys in the singles competition with a 71st-place finish out of 362. He averaged 205.3 for seven games with a high game of 278 in the third of four games in the qualifying round.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at

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