Wahconah Bowlers Finish Second at State Championship
AUBURN, Mass. -- A little Massachusetts high school bowling history was made on Saturday at the AMF Auburn Lanes.
It just was not the kind of history that Berkshire County bowling fans were hoping to see.
“For the first time since we started this tournament in 2006, the first place trophy is going to a team from outside the Berkshires,” Berkshire County HIgh School League director and tournament director Lou Orazio said as he passed out the awards.
The day’s top prize, the A Division team trophy, went to Worcester Tech, which swept the best of three title match, 2-0, from runner-up Wahconah.
While a Central Mass squad claimed the big prize, first place in the B Division went to a Western Mass squad, Springfield Central, which topped the Lee High junior varsity in the divisional final.
For Wahconah, the loss in the final not only snapped the county’s run of state supremacy, it denied a chance for back-to-back titles. A year ago, Wahconah won the crown at Cove Lanes in Great Barrington.
Immediately after Worcester Tech prevailed in a pair of Baker format matches by scores of 199-179 and 228-191, the disappointment was evident among the Berkshire County champs, who gamely shook their opponents hands before sharing hugs with family members, Berkshire competitors and one another.
“I think they got a little bit excited, which is good, but in the end, they may have gotten too excited,” Wahconah coach Shawn Wood said. “They were thinking too much about the win instead of focusing on the head-to-head.
“They were looking for a repeat. They really were.”
Wood knew what kind of challenge his team was up against.
“I was pretty sure that we'd be in top four teams again going into this,” he said. “But I knew if we went up against Worcester again, we were going up against one of the better teams around. They were tough last year, and to me, they're better this year. They're tough.”
After a first round consisting of two regular five-player games and three Baker format games in which five players bowl alternating frames, Wahconah was the top seed going into the four-team playoffs.
Worcester Tech was right behind with the second seed, followed by McCann Tech and Bay Path. Pittsfield, which started the day strong with games of 933 and 834, ran into trouble in the Baker games and ended up just out of the playoffs in fifth place among the nine A Division squads.
Wahconah and Worcester Tech each swept its way into the final match.
The local squad beat the Hornets, 234-171 and 185-50. Wahconah advanced past Bay Path by scores if 181-148 and 195-157.
In the first championship match, Worcester Tech pulled ahead with four straight strikes in frames seven through 10.
Wahconah was slightly ahead after six frames. It had 64 and strikes in the fifth and sixth frames, while Worcester Tech had a 92 after leaving pins up in the fifth and sixth.
But Wahconah did not roll another strike until Alex White’s third ball in the 10th frame, while Worcester Tech’s four-in-a-row allowed it to build up an insurmountable lead.
In the deciding match, Worcester Tech again got hot in the latter frames, throwing strikes in seven through 10 to finish the match.
Earlier in the day, Wahconah showed the kind of form that propelled it to a county title two weeks ago at Cove Lanes. Anchored by White’s 235, Wahconah posted a score of 1,096 that ranked third all-time in the history of the state championship tournament.
“I was really impressed with these guys,” Wood said. “They come together on their own. I just tell them what to do when something needs to be done. They talk to each other. That helps a lot. They pump each other up.”
In the end, local knowledge could have played a role in helping the Worcester Tech squad in the final.
“The only time we really come down here is in the beginning of the year they have a singles tournament, and a few of the kids come down,” Wood said. “Other than that, this is not a house I know.
“When you come in, the oil patterns are different, and the lanes play a little different. We don't know much about how the pins fly here. The balls don't react the same. Alex, one of the better bowlers in the league, was stringing 10 pins all night, no matter where we moved him and tried to adjust him, he couldn't grab 'em.”
Wood’s team and several other Berkshire County competitors will be back at AMF Auburn Lanes on Sunday morning for the individual state championship competition.
First Round Scores
Wahconah, 2,668; 2. Worcester Tech, 2,555; 3. McCann Tech, 2,400; 4. Bay Path, 2,320; 5. Pittsfield, 2,266; 6. Assabet, 2,211; 7. 18 Sabis 1, 2,083; 8. Lee, 2,071; 9. Drury, 1,737.
Springfield Central, 2,248; 2. Shrewsbury, 1,891; 3. Lee JV, 1,883; 4. Auburn, 1,812; 5. Ludlow, 1,769; 6. Grafton, 1,739; 7. McCann Tech Gold, 1,646; 8. Bay Path B1, 1,638; 9. St. John’s, 1,611; 10. Sabis 2, 1,547; 11. McCann Tech Green, 1,493; 12. Bay Path B2, 1,479.