By Jim Hunter
Special to the Tribune
VERNON TOWNSHIP —
A few years ago, Amy Lynn approached Plaza Lanes proprietors Dean and Stephanie Felmlee about forming a high school bowling club team. Lynn, the mother of former Meadville Area Senior High School baseball/football standout Corey Lynn, and the Felmlees contacted other high schools and the original Meadville bowling club was formed.
Unfortunately, the Meadville bowling club has gone under the radar in regards to the other Bulldogs’ sports — all because it is not recognized as a Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) sport.
PIAA or not, high school bowling clubs are growing in the area. A total of 10 teams have organized the Crawford-Venango High School Bowling League. Meadville has three teams, Cranberry and Franklin have two and Cambridge Springs, Oil City and Saegertown each have one squad.
The high school teams are competing in a 10-game schedule. The season started Dec. 3 and runs through Feb. 6. All 10 teams bowl on the same day/night at Plaza Lanes in Vernon Township, Lost Lanes in Cambridge Springs or Seneca Lanes. The standings are based on a point basis.
The teams bowl two regular games and then three Bakers-style matches.
The Bakers’ format is the same bowler bowls these respective frames: bowler No. 1 (1 and 6), bowler No. 2 (2 and 7), bowler No. 3 (3 and 8), bowler No. 4 (4 and 9) and bowler No. 5 (5 and 10).
“I strongly believe the bowling clubs are really taking off,” Stephanie Felmlee said. “Although we aren’t involved in the PIAA, I just learned that we are going to be able to compete in the high school state tournament ... which I think is fantastic.”
The teams are eligible for a regional tournament scheduled for February in Pittsburgh.
Stephanie Felmlee has been the backbone to the bowling clubs’ growth.
“I can’t say enough about Stephanie’s strong work ethic to make the high school bowling a success,” said Wendy Weiss, who is involved with the Franklin bowling teams. “She has spearheaded the entire involvement with high school bowling. She formed an organization, a committee with board members and a fundraiser to help fund the teams. She has been unbelievable.”
Weiss still feels there are four strong letters missing from their early success — PIAA.
“We went to a Franklin School Board meeting and asked if we could become a PIAA sport, but the board members urged us to stay as a club team and that they need to see more participation (more kids and more teams) to consider it,” Weiss said.
Continuing, Weiss said, “We want to bring awareness to other people that there is high school bowling. Our goal is to get more kids and teams involved. We want the kids to be recognized for their success.”
The success of several junior-senior high school club bowlers is well known. Seth Beerbower, Brant Granda and Dalton Zelasco of Meadville and Nick Archacki and Ricky Kanline III of Saegertown are constant high scorers in their respective youth leagues at Plaza Lanes and Lakeside Lanes in Conneaut Lake.
Even seventh- and eighth-graders, who are able to compete with high schoolers in the club sport, are successful on the local lanes. In the match last Thursday, Archacki, who is 12 years old, put on a show with back-to-back 279 and 256 games. The right-hander started his second match with seven consecutive strikes.
Archacki and Co. are determined to make a name for themselves — PIAA or not.