Coral Springs, Florida – This fall, some of the best Coral Springs high school sports moments didn’t just play out on football fields or school gymnasiums.
They also happened at bowling alleys as local school bowling teams competed in the growing but lesser-known sport which continued on in the pandemic with limitations.
Coral Springs High School bowling coach Ricky Samuels was disappointed his team couldn’t compete for a state championship this year, but was pleased with winning the Broward County championship and finishing second in the Tri-County championships recently.
Because of Covid-19, “it was tough because we had to wait until we got the all-clear to practice from the school,” Samuels said. “Once we got clearance, we got on the lanes right away. We started at the end of October, and we finished strong. I am glad they were able to do this for the kids.”
Coral Springs Charter School, which finished runner-up in the Broward County tournament to Coral Springs last week, switched places and captured the Tri-County title.
Coral Springs High School senior Andysson Alleyne won the Broward County tournament and posted a tournament-high 693 series in the Tri-County event at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac.
Coral Springs Charter freshman Katarina Hagler bowled anchor for the Panthers boys team and rolled a 578 series in the Tri-County event. She won the girls individual title in the Broward County tournament and also had the high score in the Tri-County.
Due to the pandemic, public schools in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties were unable to participate in the Florida High School Athletic Association’s state series. They did have county and Tri-County tournament, however.
J.P. Taravella High School bowling coach Greg Mason said the biggest attraction to high school bowling is how excited the students get during competitions.
“(Bowling) has really started to explode,” Mason said. “We are starting to get more and more high schools involved. To me, it keeps the kids out of trouble. This year we got excluded from states with Covid-19, but with everyone taking an interest, I think it has helped everyone out. The junior programs have also started promoting high school bowling.”
Bowling became a sanctioned sport by the Florida High School Athletic Association in 2003 and local schools reached the pinnacle of success in 2018 when the Coral Springs Charter School girls won the state championship.
The Panthers also finished second as a team in 2017. They are the lone team from the city to ever win a state title.
Individually, Krystina Nealon won an individual state title for Coral Glades High School in 2013 and Crystal Singh won a state championship for Coral Springs Charter School in 2017. Jessica Mellott was second individually for Coral Springs Charter School in 2013 and went on to lead McKendree University to an NCAA and Intercollegiate national titles in 2017.
Vincent Sica, who was the tournament director for the Tri-County high school bowling tournament at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac, said the sport is popular because anyone can play it, including special needs athletes.
“We were growing and growing in Broward County with about 18 teams,” said Sica, who has served as past president of both Broward County and the state. “Because of Covid-19 this year, we wound up with about 13 public school teams. The private schools went on their own.”
The National Federation of State High School Associations recorded 61,291 varsity bowlers in 2018-19, with roughly 2,900 boys teams and 2,900 girls teams (again only varsity classified).
According to the United States Bowling congress, more than 200 colleges offer intercollegiate bowling programs.
Sica expects the sport to continue growing at local schools.
“High school bowling is up. Kids want to participate. They like to have challenges, whether it is bragging rights as a singles bowler or for your team,” Sica said.
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