In high school bowling, consistency is key. Typically the team that completes all of its spares and stays most consistent is the team that leaves the alley with a victory.
For the junior varsity bowling team at Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, there were plenty of winning smiles as the team left the alley this past season.
The Crusaders’ JV squad turned in an undefeated regular season, winning all 11 of its matches against some tough competition. The team reached the CHSAA city championship finals for the first time in years before dropping a heartbreaker to LaSalle Academy, Manhattan.
Right from the start of the season, fourth-year head coach Kathy Gluszak knew she had a special crop of bowlers. Week by week, Cathedral kept racking up the wins.
“It was so suspenseful; we were so excited,” said Gluszak, who teaches English to upperclassmen at the school and also coaches the varsity bowling team. “The great part about Cathedral is that everybody roots for you. Everything gets announced. They’re (the bowlers) being congratulated in the hallways. I had never experienced such a good season, and for all of us to do it together was just so exciting.”
This year’s team was made up of seven bowlers: freshmen Joseph Ambrosino, Anthony Mastroianni and Christian Santamaria; sophomores Matthew Sacktig, Anthony Ciappetta and Griffin Leibman, and junior Riley Steiner.
Each weekly match was comprised of three games, with one point at stake for each game as well as two points being awarded for highest total pinfall. In total, teams could accumulate a maximum of five points each week.
After the team rattled off six wins in a row, a tough test came in Week 7 against LaSalle, who had been undefeated the past three years. The Crusaders notched a statement victory – making all of their spares – and followed it up by beating LaSalle again the next week.
“The spares pretty much decide who’s going to win the game because if you’re more consistent with how you’re throwing the ball, it makes you have a higher score, which helps the team toward victory,” said Mastroianni, a freshman from Bensonhurst.
With the guidance of assistant coach Jim Sacktig, Matthew’s father, focusing on technique, the team capped off its undefeated season. Next up was a sweep of Holy Cross H.S., Flushing, in the semifinals of the Division ‘A’ playoffs, in which the team set a new league-high team score of 871.
In the championship, LaSalle captured the title, but the Crusaders knew they’d get another chance to take down their old rival in the city playoffs.
A clean sweep of Salesian H.S., New Rochelle, N.Y., in the city semifinals landed Cathedral a spot in the championship match against none other than LaSalle. After splitting the first two games, LaSalle took the deciding third game and the city title.
Mastroianni – who has bowled two perfect games in his young career – won the league’s Triple Crown for the playoffs with the best average (232), high game (258) and high series (717). The team is already looking forward to its next chance to take on the mighty LaSalle.
“The success from this year will inspire us to work harder in our practices to keep learning about ourselves and the game that we play,” said Matthew Sacktig, a Ridgewood native who averaged a 159 in the regular season.
The deep playoff run served as a learning experience for this year’s squad. Now that they’ve been there, they should be more comfortable next year if they happen to make it back to the postseason.
Regardless of how this year ended up, the Crusaders are proud of their accomplishments and eager to get better. Sometimes when a team falls just short of a title, it is ready to get over the hump the following season.
“For us to have such a small school and to field such an amazing group of bowlers, I think everybody appreciated how special that was,” said Gluszak, who plans to start a bowling club at the school to get even more students interested in the sport.
Rather than hang their heads after a tough defeat, the team was right back in the alley just days after losing the city championship final to LaSalle.
Offseason? It’s a term that doesn’t exist for these young men.
Contact Jim Mancari via email at email@example.com.