By Warren Rappleyea
Sayreville War Memorial High School’s boys bowling team is well known for its success, but the girls team is making a name for itself this winter and top bowler Mary Kate Kersting won the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) individual title.
Sayreville’s girls team is 13-2 and sits in second place in the GMC White Division. Kersting has played an enormous role in the Bombers’ turnaround following a 6-10 showing last winter. The senior is averaging 190 pins and has shown an amazing consistency throughout the season.
“Mary Kate is really the team leader,” Sayreville coach Mike Weinert said. “We know what she is capable of doing, and we count on her to keep doing it. We need her to be ‘on’ for every match. She handles the pressure very well. She keeps her poise and just goes and bowls.”
Kersting has seven 600-plus-pin series performances this season, with a high series of 756 in a victory over South Brunswick High School, during which she rolled a season-high 269-pin game.
“It’s not just me,” Kersting said. “I have great teammates, and they have to bowl well for us to win. They have all stepped up this season. That’s why we’re doing so well.”
At the GMC Individual Tournament held at the Brunswick Zone/Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick Jan. 15, Kersting roared through the qualifying round and earned the top seed. The Sayreville bowler watched as South Plainfield High School’s Lanasia Neal, the fifth seed, won three straight matches to make her way into the finale against Kersting.
Both bowlers started slowly in the championship match, but Kersting gradually found her form and went on to a 222-147 victory.
“I’d rather have the top seed and have to wait because Lanasia had it so much harder,” Kersting said. “I was kind of nervous at first and I didn’t get off to a good start, but I was able to stay focused and I started making my shots.”
The GMC crown is quite an accomplishment for an athlete who began bowling in earnest as a sophomore. Once Kersting committed to the sport, she began practicing regularly on her own, and she continues to work with a personal coach to refine her skills and technique.
As a result, Kersting has continued to improve and her average this winter represents a 25 pin-per-game increase over 2014-15. As a result, she is getting interest from several colleges and expects to continue her bowling career after high school. Even more impressive, she has become a top-notch keggler while playing key roles for Sayreville’s field hockey and softball teams — and maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average and staying active in the National Honor Society.
“There are a lot of late nights, and it helps to pay attention in class,” Kersting said. “I really enjoy what I’m doing and I really don’t mind putting in the time. I’m doing what I want to do.
Kersting is looking forward to helping the Bombers challenge for the title in the upcoming GMC Team Tournament and believes her team can make a strong showing in the state tournament as well.
“We’re ready to go,” she said.