By Tim Morris
After a one-year absence, the Howell High School girls bowling team is back on top.
For the 13th time in the last 15 years, the Rebels have won a Shore Conference division championship.
Howell trailed Freehold Township High School early in the season before a 3-0 victory over the Patriots at Howell Lanes put them in first place of B Central. From that point on, the Rebels have not lost a single game. With a 36-3 record, Howell has a seven-game lead on Freehold Township (29-10) with just two weeks and six game remaining to the season. That’s good enough to clinch the division title once again.
As in previous editions of Howell’s championship teams, this squad was balanced top to bottom with no weak link. It blended experience with talented newcomers to create a winning formula.
“This year, we have bowled as a team — very solid from all bowlers bowling together as one team,” Rebels head coach Bob Wetzel said. “Champagne Hill, Amanda Dormer and Nicolle Wetzel with newcomers to varsity Alexa Scranton and Madison Gibson have filled out the varsity squad. We have had key fill-ins by Samantha Chibbaro and Olivia Bosko.”
Veterans Hill, Dormer and Wetzel have been the foundation of this year’s squad. They have been solid and dependable throughout the season. Hill has one of the best averages in the division at 186, followed by Dormer (176) and Wetzel (172).
Freehold Township has been led by Clare Chaffer (185) and Allison Finn (165).
Colts Neck High School’s Jen Sisti has one of the best season averages at 186.
Sisti and Hill both qualified for the state individual championships in 2015.
With two weeks to go for the boys, Jackson Memorial High School (30-9) needs just one win in the last six games to win the division championship outright. Howell and Freehold Township are both 24-15 and must go 6-0 and hope for a Jaguars slip up.
Freehold Township’s Ricky Garvey (211) and Howell’s Robbie Wetzel (201) are sporting averages above 200 for the season.
Other bowlers with 190 or better averages include Howell’s Jeremy Isaacs (193), T.J. Carey (192) and Pat Nelson (191) and Manalapan High School’s Dan Natoli (193) and Tom Cardella (191).
The championship tournament season begins with the Feb. 3 Shore Conference Championships at the Bradley Beach Bowl and Recreation Center.
The NJSIAA tournament gets underway Feb. 6 with the girls Central Jersey Championships at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick. The boys’ turn comes Feb. 13 at Carolier.
The girls group and Tournament of Champions (TOC) finals Feb. 12 for teams, with the individual tournament slated for Feb. 17. The boys group and TOC finals are Feb. 19, and the individual tournament is Feb. 17.
Freehold Township’s boys are the defending Group IV champions.
All state bowling tournaments are at Carolier Lanes.