bowling teams rolling toward postseason
Tornado girls in position to defend state crown, boys hope to win one
BUTLER TWP — Facing a Seneca Valley team with only two female bowlers Wednesday, Butler's girls found new motivation.
“We wanted to beat the guys' scores,” junior Megan Paul said.
They did so once, the five-person Golden Tornado girls rolling a 998 in the second game to the boys' 894.
But the mere idea of his girls bowling against his boys is almost like a Civil War to first-year Butler High School bowling coach Bob Cupp.
“As far as we're concerned, there is no Butler girls team, there is no Butler boys team ... there is only a Butler bowling team. We've stressed that from the first day we got here,” Cupp said.
“Nobody is bigger than the program.”
That's one of the reason no team captains were named this season.
“He (Cupp) wanted it to be fair, everyone on even ground,” senior Garrett Sexton said. “Everyone should be leading and supporting everybody else.”
That concept is working so far.
Butler's boys recently polished off a 10-0 regular season — its second-ever perfect season — while the girls extended their program's all-time regular season win streak to 50.
The Tornado girls are defending a state championship. The boys are trying to get one.
“We definitely want to get there,” senior Jascob Cookson said. “It's been our goal.”
Through five years of existence, Butler's varsity girls bowling team has never lost a regular season match.
“No team here has ever done something like this,” senior Kelly Bintrim said. “I think it's a pretty big accomplishment.
“It doesn't matter who we're bowling against or what the situation is. I want to make every shot count. Otherwise, I feel like I'm letting the team down.”
Butler’s Jake Cookson follows through after releasing the ball during the Golden Tornado’s match Wednesday night at Family Bowlaway. The boys team is hoping to match the girls team success by winning a state title. Dave Prelosky/BUTLER EAGLE
Pellegrini — the only other senior on the girls team — said the streak is
impressive because bowlers have come and gone.
“Past seniors have graduated, new bowlers are here ... Now it's on us,” she said.
This year was particularly satisfying to Pellegrini. A junior varsity bowler for three years, she cracked the varsity lineup this season and produced a 153 average, sixth-highest in the section.
Pellegrini closed the regular season with a season-best 595 series, including a 215 game.
“It's amazing, really,” she said of her season. “My hard work all this time paid off and I got to move up. This really feels special to me.”
Butler's girls had a team average of 792 entering the final regular season match — and posted team scores of 892, 998 and 973 with six 200-games.
“It's a satisfying way to end it because we really struggled at the beginning of the season,” Paul said. “We bowled our opener against Mars and didn't get out of the 500s.”
Cupp and assistant coach Kurt Huff have used last year's state championship as a source of pride for this year.
“The new girls on this year's team automatically became part of the defending state champions,” Cupp said. “When we get off the bus at a match, everyone knows, 'Here comes
“We've told the boys it's their turn to get their names on the wall here (at Family Bowlaway) as well.”
“Our boys lineup is deep,” Cupp said. “We didn't use Cookson and only used Wetzel for one game at
“Butler's youth bowling program is like our minor leagues. That program produces outstanding young bowlers year after year,” Cupp added. “This high school program is a great way to culminate those youth careers.”
“All of our coaches say they wish this program was here when they were in school,” he said.
All 10 of the Tornado's starting varsity male and female bowlers may qualify for the upcoming regional tournament. The top 74 male and female bowlers in the WPIBL get regional berths.
“Our top four boys and girls have already qualified and we've got two others right on the bubble,” Cupp said.
Butler's girls have four of the section's top six averages as well. Paul's 171 leads the way while junior Mikayla White's 169 is second. Bintrim's 167 is fourth with Pellegrini's 153 sixth.
“(Previous coaches) Bill Fay, Jim Hepler and Jeff Suchonic left a very solid program in place,” Cupp said. “We haven't had to change anything. These kids really could coach themselves. We're just here to help instill confidence and motivation.”
“We've done some different things in practice,” White said. “We did a drill where one bowler would roll the first ball and another bowler would pick up that person's spare. The coaches wanted to emphasize the importance of making spares.”
One thing is certain: Butler bowling is primed to make another strong postseason run.
“Both of our teams love to compete and know how to rise to the occasion,” Cupp said.