Southold High School boys bowling coach John Meyers’ goals are relatively simple for this season.
“I have a lot of new bowlers this year,” he said. “I’m hoping to get better than the year before. That’s my goal.”
The First Settlers finished last in Suffolk County League IV in 2016-17. Of the 30 schools that compete in boys bowling in the county, Southold is the smallest school. So the degree of difficulty always will be difficult. Since bowling is an individual sport, the key to success is being consistent, improving and reaching personal bests.
Team improvement can be gradual. Meyers noted that last season the Settlers won their first game in six years.
“To win a match, it would be great,” he said.
Meyers called junior Tyler DeFrese Southold’s “premier player.” DeFrese, in his second year on the team, averaged around 150 a game last season.
“He’s a natural at it,” Meyers said. “He has his technique down well. Out of all my bowlers, he stands out the most.”
Freshman Matt Mullen, who did not participate in matches last season due to several veterans on the team, worked hard in practice, learned from the upperclassmen and has moved up to a starting role.
Senior Luis Herrera, who played for the Southold boys soccer team that reached the county Class C finals this fall, is another bowler Meyers will count on. “He has a good ball, a good throw and has nice form,” the coach added.
Meyers expected junior Jon Baumann, senior Parker Bakowski and eighth-grader Kevin Amador will make contributions this season.
Meyers said that Baumann started out really well in 2016-17. “Hopefully, he has improved and will get us some points this year,” he said.
In fact, Bakowski was so enthused about being on the team that he bought his own bowling ball and shoes last season.
“He didn’t get a lot of playing time,” Meyers said. “He came in really enthusiastic and much improved.”
Meyers also has high hopes for Amador, who was one of two junior high athletes on the team who did not compete last season. “He’s got a lot of potential,” said Meyers.
Meyers was encouraged that 22 students tried out for the team as he decided to keep 12. “We had so many kids interested,” he said. “I let down 10 kids.”
Because there are no bowling alleys on the North Fork, the Settlers have to travel a half-hour to reach Wildwood Lanes in Riverhead for matches and to practice three or four days a week. The students’ commitment to the sport has given Meyers much optimism.
“The enthusiasm is nice,” he said. “Hopefully, the enthusiasm will take us a long way.”
Meyers felt defending league champion Longwood should be the team to beat in seven-team League IV, which includes Riverhead, William Floyd, Eastport-South Manor, Comsewogue and Rocky Point.
“The team gets good bowlers,” he said. “They have a really good coach who gets them going. I don’t expect anything different this year.”