Howell girls return to championship form on alleys


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The Howell High School girls bowling team is back as one of the state’s best squads.

After a one-year absence, the Rebels’ girls claimed their 13th divisional title in the last 15 years, winning the Shore Conference B Central Division championship this winter. After stumbling in early December, the Rebels did not lose a game in 2016 and finished their division schedule with a 42-3 record, which was eight games up on runner-up Freehold Township High School (34-11). Howell had the best high series (2,714) for the year, and the Rebels’ high game (968) was just one behind Freehold Township (969).

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Howell’s season did not stop there. Head coach Bob Wetzel’s Rebels went on to win another NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group IV title (the program’s third) by 164 pins over East Brunswick High School (2,652-2,488) and finish second to eventual state champion Brick Memorial High School at the Group IV championships.

The Patriots were one of the state’s top teams as well. They finished second to Edison High School in Central Jersey, Group III. Freehold Township finished first in qualifying at the county tournament, beating Howell by 12 pins (2,474-2,462). The Patriot finished third, while Howell was fourth.

Howell’s Champagne Hill, Freehold Township’s Claire Chaffer and Colts Neck High School’s Jen Sisti were the season’s most consistent bowlers, and they head the News Transcript’s 2016 All-Freehold Regional High School District Girls Bowling Team that includes the Rebels’ Nicolle Wetzel and Amanda Dorner and Manalapan High School’s Alissa Rescigno.

For the boys, Freehold Township and Howell were contenders in B Central all season. The Patriots (30-15) finished just one game behind Jackson Memorial High School (31-14), with Howell finishing a very close third (29.5-15.5). The Rebels had the high game of the season (1,184).

At the county championships, Howell finished second in qualifying and fourth overall, while Manalapan took third. At the Shore Conference meet, Freehold Township was ninth and Howell placed 11th. In the state sectionals, Howell was fifth in Central Jersey, Group IV and in Central Jersey, Group III, Freehold Township was seventh and Manalapan was ninth.

Freehold Township’s Rick Garvey and Howell’s Robbie Wetzel were the season’s high scorers, and they top the New Transcript’s 2016 All-Freehold Regional High School District Boys Bowling Team. Completing the team are Howell’s T.J. Carey and Manalapan’s Dan Natoli and Tom Cardella.

Hill, a four-year veteran, led the Rebels with her leadership and performances. Her season average of 187 was the best in the district. Her high game for the year, 269, ranked third in the division. She was very good in tournaments, finishing seventh and qualifying for the step-ladder finals in the Shore Conference. She was 14th in the state sectional, qualifying for the state individual tournament for a second straight year.

Chaffer helped make the Patriots one of Central Jersey’s best. She averaged 186.66 for the division season and had the third highest single game in the division at 245. She was 10th in the conference and the top bowler in the state sectional, finishing 13th and beating out Hill by three pins (575-572).  She also qualified for the state individual tournament.

The Cougars’ Sisti had another big year ranking high in the Shore. Sisti’s season average of 185 was second best in the district, tied with Chaffer. She was 10th at the county championships and 10th in the Shore Conference.

Nicolle Wetzel, a senior, also provided veteran leadership to the division champions, as well as a steady game. She had the highest single game of the year in B Central, 269. She averaged 172 for the season.

Dorner, a junior, brought additional experience to the Rebels. One of the team’s anchors, she averaged 174 for the season.

Rescigno averaged 170 for the Braves.

Garvey’s season average of 212 ranked in the top 10 in the Shore Conference and second in the division. His season’s high series, 722, was the best in B Central. He was a key player when the Patriots won the Group IV championship last year.

Robbie Wetzel was the only other district bowler to average 200 this season. His 688 series was third best in the division. He is a sophomore on a Rebels team team that had six freshmen. The future is very bright for Howell’s boys.

Natoli and Cardella have been a formidable one-two combination for Manalapan for four years and both had solid senior years. Natoli had the third highest single game at 279. Cardella sported a 191 average.

Carey, one of just two seniors on the Rebels’ squad, had the third best average among the district bowlers at 197.

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