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Young Falcons rolling into a bright future

February 11, 2015

by Justin Porreca

The Albany High Falcons varsity bowling squad capped off its season in impressive fashion with a sixth place finish Wednesday at the Section II Class A bowling championships.

Lone Senior, John Henry Phillips, holding his spare ball before the second session of bowling at Sectionals, Wednesday at Boulevard Bowl

Lone Senior, John Henry Phillips, holding his spare ball before the second session of bowling at Sectionals, Wednesday at Boulevard Bowl

Junior bowler, Seth Betz, following through on a practice shot during the Class A Sectional Tournament

Annually held at Boulevard Bowl in Schenectady, sectionals is the final match of the 2014-2015 season for the Falcons. As for the regular season, the Falcons finished 6-6 in the soon to be defunct Big 10. The Falcons will be entering the competitive Suburban Council next season, and will be bowling against the likes of former sectional champs, South Colonie and Christian Brothers Academy.

“The season was a .500 season. We lost a couple close ones. The positive is that we are young and only losing one senior which is good,” said Coach Nancy Madsen

Madsen, who is a bowler herself and coached the now defunct Albany girls varsity bowling team before coaching the boys, has 20-plus years of coaching experience.

“I enjoy coaching these young athletes,” said  Madsen. She realizes she has a very young team, with untapped potential, but she enjoys every aspect of coaching them.

Freshman, Jahlil Young, holds up his NYS PHSAA patch he received after rolling the high series, 721, of the day

Freshman, Jahlil Young, holds up his NYS PHSAA patch he received after rolling the high series, 721, of the day

“The best part about coaching these students is seeing them grow and mature on and off the lanes,” she said. “I think this team gets along well. They help each other, root each other on, and they are a cohesive unit.”

Madsen also has a big impact on the team when it comes to their focus, consistency, and level headedness on the lanes.

“She helps me concentrate. I get really angry when I bowl and she keeps me calm,” said junior bowler Seth Betz.

Junior bowler, Queone Sylvester, has also received key pointers from Madsen, “She helps me by telling me to stay focused, and not getting distracted. She tells me to roll the ball and see what happens.”

Bowling, which has become a dying sport, has sentimental value to the Albany High Falcons.

“I bowl because it inspires me. Every time I watch the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) bowling on television, I watch Peter Weber. He’s my favorite bowler and a role model. I aspire to be him,” said Sylvester.

The majority of the bowlers for Albany High bowl in Saturday morning leagues on the side to prepare themselves for the upcoming season and to improve their game. Betz bowls in a Saturday league at Sunset Lanes, where Sylvester and freshman phenom, Jahlil Young, bowl in a morning league at Dell Lanes. Sylvester and Young also bowl in the Capital District Youth Scholarship Tour, which has tournaments every Saturday at various lanes throughout the Capital Region.

As for sectionals the playing format is a little different than the regular season format. In sectionals teams’ consist of a five-man roster, instead of the typical six in regular season match play. It’s typically the five-best bowlers on the team by average. The starting five for the Albany Falcons was: freshman, Gabby Gaudio, who has a 139 average; Betz, who’s average is a 179; lone senior, John Henry Phillips who holds a 202 average; Young, who has  a team high, 208 average; and the anchor, Sylvester, who’s average is a 197.

Junior bowler, Seth Betz, following through on a practice shot during the Class A Sectional Tournament

Junior bowler, Seth Betz, following through on a practice shot during the Class A Sectional Tournament

It looked bleak in the early goings of sectionals for the Falcons. Missed spares, shot inconsistency, and the inability to read the tricky oil pattern plagued the young Falcons in the first three games. The five Albany Falcon starters shot a total team pinfall (three games) of 2,514, placing them in twelfth place at the halfway point of the tournament. The lead man in the first half was Betz, who threw a 227 game, with a 587 triple.

However, after an hour lunch break to re-oil and reassign the lanes, the Albany High Falcons came out firing on all cylinders.

In the first game of the second session of bowling, the Falcons shot a 1,024, the highest fourth game total amongst the 16 competing high schools. Phillips rolled a 244 game, Young pitched in with a 235; and Betz contributed with a 224. However, the Falcons would one up themselves in their fifth game of the day.

The team shot a 1,072, which went down as the fourth highest team total pinfall for one game for the entire day. Gaudio shot a season high, 193 game; Phillips threw another 244; Sylvester rolled a 238; and Young joined in with a 231.

In the final game of the day, the team shot a 952 and the freshman, Young, led the way with a 255 game and Sylvester shot a 201.

Albany High’s cumulative total pinfall for their three second session games was 3,084. The Falcons had the highest team total pinfall score for the second half of the day beating out the top four teams CBA, Columbia High, Burnt Hills and South Colonie. Albany High’s huge second half of the day moved them from twelfth place to finishing in sixth with a final six-game pin total of 5,562.

Young was the high man on the team in the second session with a 721 series and he shot 1,242 for the day. Second high was Phillips, who rolled a 681 and rolled a 1,183 in his last match and third high was Sylvester, who shot a 635 series and 1,181 for the day.

The major highlight of the day was Young winning Section II Class A high triple of the day with his 721 in the second session. Young was awarded with a New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYS PHSAA) Section II commemorative patch to honor his achievement. He was also 60 pins away from making the state team and traveling to Syracuse.

The winner of the Section II Class A bowling championship was CBA which posted a six-game total pinfall of 6,084. CBA bowled inspired Wednesday, after their coach, Tom Donato, 65, died late Tuesday night of heart failure. Columbia finished in second posting a score of 6,011.

Albany High has nowhere to go but up from this performance on Wednesday. The bowlers are looking forward to next season and have high expectations for themselves.

“I hope to bowl a 300 next year, make states, and have the high average,” said Young. His teammate, Sylvester, also chimed in, “Mainly I’m going to become better at spares and being consistent with my shots and marks.”

As for the senior Phillips, his journey two-year bowling journey with Albany High ended Wednesday, but he won’t forget the team. “I’m going to miss coming together as a team and helping them win,” said Phillips.

Coach Madsen also had some nice parting words for her senior bowler. “John Henry is a great kid, true gentleman, he’s been a joy to coach and he has a ton of potential,” Madsen said.

Phillips is still undecided about his future, he does not know yet if will attend college or not. If he does, he would like to attend Schenectady Community College and bowl for the team.

With this season in the books, coach Madsen was very proud of her team’s perseverance and ability to come together as a team on Wednesday.

“It was a whole different atmosphere this afternoon. They were a team, cheering each other on and they bowled phenomenal,” Madsen said. “I’m really proud of them, seeing the way they came out and rallied like that was absolutely phenomenal.” -30-

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