After he was asked what the biggest difference is between last season’s Mount Sinai High School boys bowling team and this season’s squad, Coach Pete Shapiro thought the question over long and hard. Then, following a delay of about 15 seconds, he began to formulate an answer.
“The biggest difference?” he repeated. “There isn’t much.”
That sounds like good news for the Mustangs, who lost only one senior from last season’s team, which won 27 of 36 games and finished 39 points ahead of the second-place East Hampton/Bridgehampton/Pierson Bonackers. It could mean another league championship banner for the school.
Mount Sinai’s drive for a third straight league title began in a positive direction for the Mustangs on Monday when they opened the new season with a 28-5 victory over the Southold First Settlers at Wildwood Lanes in Riverhead. Mount Sinai won all three games in the Suffolk County League V match, 801-786, 887-783, 893-850.
“It was a good day,” said Will Reynolds, the anchorman who led Mount Sinai with a three-game series of 592. The sophomore fired 13 strikes and picked up 14 spares as he got his fourth varsity season off to a winning start.
Shapiro said Reynolds has more ball speed and greater upper-body strength than he did last season. “He’s an amazing kid,” the coach said. “He loves the sport, and he’s exceptional.”
Teammate Mike Di Renzo opened a 549 series with a 195, and finished with 15 strikes and 10 spares. Nick Barbarello added a 493 series and Jack Imparato had a 475. Nick Exarchou rolled a 202 in the third game.
The match marked the debut for Southold’s rookie coach, Sal Campo, who took over the team from Ray Gramazio. Gramazio retired after five seasons in charge. Campo, who like Shapiro is an alumnus of SUNY/Oswego, said he didn’t feel nervous at all in his first match. “I had a ball,” he said.
Evidently, so did the Mustangs, who overcame a 740-735 deficit with two bowlers from each side left to complete the 10th frame of the first game.
One of the keys to Mount Sinai’s season will be how well it bowls away from the familiar confines of its home alley, Port Jeff Bowl.
“With bowling, when you’re away, it’s much harder,” Shapiro said. “When you’re at home, you always bowl much better.”
Familiarity with the lane conditions is a big advantage. Reynolds found the lanes at Wildwood a little too dry for his liking, although it didn’t seem to bother his scores — a 199, 206 and 187.
“I think we did really good,” Reynolds said. “We just have to step it up a little bit. We do better at Port Jeff, but away we’re a little shaky. We got to work on that.”
Southold received a 519 series from Brayan Palencia, who threw a 193 in the first game. He had 10 strikes and 14 spares.
Ben Glew recorded 12 strikes and bowled a 490 series, Chris Kirincic added a 473 and Pat Sinclair had a 358 series built around a 195 in the second game.
“We came close,” Palencia said. “For them being the number one team last year, I think we did pretty good.”
Campo saw his team’s respectable showing in this early-season test it as a hopeful sign of good things to come.
“I thought we did really well tonight for the first game out,” he said. “… We got a new team, practically a new team, because we lost a lot of people last year, but I thought we had a great first start. It’s very encouraging, especially against a team that did so well [last] year.”
One wonders how far Mount Sinai can go this season. Do the Mustangs have another league title in store for them?
“I hope so,” Shapiro said. “We haven’t had that many practices. The season just started. I think they’ve improved a lot. I think they definitely got better. They bowled much better than they have been in practice. That’s the best I can ask for.”