By Warren Rappleyea
Ocean Township High School’s girls’ bowling team has jumped out to a 4-0 start as the Spartans look to defend their Monmouth County Championship.
Coach Denise D’Esposito’s girls went 13-2 a year ago with both losses coming against Manasquan High School in Shore Conference Class A Central Division play. The highlight of the campaign came in the county tournament. After finishing third in the qualifying round, Ocean Township defeated both second-place Howell High School and first-place Freehold Township High School to claim the crown.
“It was awesome. Every one of the girls contributed; they all came through somehow in some way,” D’Esposito said. “To beat two teams that finished ahead of us is a great accomplishment.”
While the Spartans have lost Alexis Case and Angelica DeRose to graduation, there is still plenty of talent in D’Esposito’s lineup. That has been apparent, as Ocean Township has downed Neptune High School, Point Pleasant Borough High School, Manasquan and Asbury Park High School to open the season.
In addition, Dana Henry won the girls’ championship earlier this month at the South Jersey Singles Classic in Lakewood. The senior capped a solid performance by rolling a 202 in the semifinals and then posted a 209 in the finals to defeat Kamerin Peters of Toms River High School North.
In regular-season action, Henry has been superb as well, averaging about 175 pins and scoring series of 610 and 629 pins against Asbury Park and Neptune, respectively.
Another senior, Jenn Ingulli, is averaging 181 pins to lead the team and has three 600-plus pin series to her credit. Ingulli tossed games of 227, 201 and 202 pins in her team’s victory over Neptune. Last season, Ingulli averaged about 175 pins, and D’Esposito expects that number to increase significantly this winter.
“Dana and Jenn give us consistency on the lanes as well as strong senior leadership,” the coach said. “They were both a big part of last year’s team, so they know what it takes. We’re also very confident that they’re going to put up good numbers.”
Alexis Tieto averaged about 160 pins last year and has been about seven pins over that mark this time around. The sophomore has a high game of 222 this season, which came against Point Pleasant Borough.
Sophomore Emma Sylvia is averaging 155 pins in the early going, while junior Bella Ferraina is averaging 142 pins — up 12 pins from a year ago. Senior Calli Feehan gives the Spartans experience and depth. Feehan, who can score in the 160-pin range, is another leader who came up big under pressure in the Monmouth County tournament when she converted a huge a spare.
“We have the talent to win the division and do well in the tournament,” D’Esposito said. “Right now, we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. You can only play one match at a time, and that’s what we have to focus on.”