With full lineups, Hampton bowling teams enjoy season

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Saturday, February 5, 2022 | 11:01 AM


Hampton bowling coach Bob Wallace doesn’t stress over wins and losses with his fifth-year program.

The Talbots boys and girls wrapped up the 2021-22 season against Quaker Valley on Feb. 2 with losing records — the fifth time in five years — but their enjoyment left nothing to spare.

“I always have a smile on my face when I come home from the matches,” Wallace said. “The kids are great. Win, lose or draw, they are good kids and they play sports the right way.

“You know, we are there to have a good time. We’re not shooting for states or national titles. It’s a good fun sport for the kids to do, and I’m just there to make sure they enjoy themselves.”

The program has grown from a couple of bowlers when it formed in 2017 to filling out the boys and girls teams each of the past two seasons.

This season the Talbots had five bowlers on both the boys and girls teams, enough to complete their lineups for matches.

When senior Gabe Jakovlic joined the team in 2019, the boys squad was “sort of on its last leg.”

“I only had my friend Kyle DiCaprio. It was just me and him for the bowling team,” Jakovlic said. “So being able to build up the team over the last few years … is really nice. I never expected that three years ago to ever happen.

“So even though we have a losing record, honestly I’m getting more enjoyment out of this season, partially because I’m doing better and partially because I get to have fun with my friends.”

Wallace was back in charge this season after Glenn Thomas, who founded the team five years ago, filled in as coach last season. Wallace’s son, then-junior Liam, was at risk for covid and they sat out the 2020-21 season.

“We took off a year, and after my son was fully vaccinated, we decided that we could come back,” Bob Wallace said.

The boys (2-7 as of Feb. 1) and the girls (3-6) failed to qualify for the playoffs in the 51-team Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Bowling League and none of their bowlers qualified for the WPIBL individual championships.

But there were some highlights. The boys earned a pair of victories over Nazareth Prep, and the girls swept Nazareth Prep and beat Quaker Valley.

Jakovlic is the top scorer for the boys team, averaging 134 with a high game of 182 as of Feb. 1. When he joined the team in 2019, he typically bowled “less than 70.”

“My first year, it was really bad because I hadn’t bowled in six or seven years,” he said. “I had never practiced. Nothing. I was missing all the time. It was really bad. This year, my average has been 130 and up and I’ve had games bowling well past 175, going into the 180s, which I think is pretty respectable.”

Sophomore Emmy Schrom, an all-WPIAL outside hitter for the school’s PIAA Class 3A runner-up volleyball team, is the top scorer on the girls team with an average of 113.5, which ranked 12th in the WPIBL West Division as of Feb. 1. She also bowled a high game of 164. Schrom’s mom, Jennifer, also helps coach the Talbots.

The future looks different for the respective teams. The boys will lose their entire roster — seniors Jakovlic, Wallace, Richard Stratemeier, Anthony DiMaria and Brady Longwell. The girls, on the other hand, will graduate no one. Junior Madeline McGrath, sophomores Schrom, Anna Derence and Juliana Valenti and freshman Jackie Bittner are all expected to return.

“If the girls stay together as a team and continue to bowl over the next couple years, I think they have the ability to compete with any of the teams in our section,” Bob Wallace said.

Wallace said the fate of the boys team next season “is going to be very interesting.” There are currently no boys bowlers lined up for next year’s roster.

Jakovlic said he has spoken to classmates to fill the roster and said they “seem super excited.” There is also hope the returning girls will help to recruit some students to join the boys team, a tactic that has succeeded in the past.

“That happened last year and the year before, and it actually worked,” coach Wallace said. “But the girls were juniors and seniors then and maybe they were more comfortable talking to boys than freshmen and sophomores are. Who knows? … It will be very interesting to see what happens next year with respect to a boys team.”

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