By Warren Rappleyea
Sayreville War Memorial High School’s boys’ bowling team finished the regular season with a 13-5-1 mark, and coach Joe Slavik is looking for a strong showing at the NJSIAA Group III tournament Feb. 11 at Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick.
The Bombers were eliminated by South Brunswick High School in the quarterfinals of the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC) Tournament Feb. 2, but Slavik is confident in his team.
“This is the part of the season we aim for, and our guys are peaking now,” the Bombers’ coach said. “We’ve won some tough matches, and we know what can happen from last year.”
A year ago, Sayreville finished second in the GMC Tournament and then took second place in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group III tournament to qualify for the overall Group III event. The Bombers rebounded from a slow start to win the Group III crown and went on to bring home the Tournament of Champions (TOC) title by downing Roselle Park High School and Brick Memorial High School.
Against South Brunswick, the Bombers fell just two pins short in game one. Sayreville dominated the second game — winning by 140 pins — before bowing in game three to the Vikings.
“We were very disappointed by the South Brunswick match but know what we can do,” Slavik said. “All it takes is one good hot streak. We’ve seen it before. If you can get rolling, the momentum just builds.”
The Bombers have plenty of players who can build momentum, including Chris DeoCampo, who leads the team with a 216-pin average, including a season-high 269-pin game. The highly consistent senior took fourth place individually in the GMC. He has surpassed the 600-pin mark 10 times and has two sets of 700 or more pins to his credit.
Ryan Johnson, another senior, owns a 212-pin average and has been particularly hot of late, regularly rolling scores of 230-plus pins, Slavik said. Johnson has nine, 600-plus pin sets this season. The Bombers have received a boost from Eddie Petersen, who averages 195 pins. Slavik noted that Petersen saw limited action last year, but he has stepped up to become a force in his senior campaign.
Another senior, Dheraj Rajeevan, is averaging 180 pins, and junior Dylan Gilligan is hovering at about the 190-pin mark, while sophomore Jon Tabacco is averaging 186 pins and has posted a 267-pin game.
The future also looks bright with sophomore Peter Lawrence and freshmen Dylan Rodrigues and Nolan Aucone all showing promise. Rodrigues is averaging 170 pins and Aucone has a 232 game in the books.
“Right now, we’re looking to stay focused and get some practice in at Carolier so we’re familiar with the lanes,” said Slavik, whose team normally plays at either Woodbridge Bowling Center or Majestic Lanes, which is also in Woodbridge. “In the states, it’s just a matter of keeping to basics and getting our young guys to step back, take a deep breath and approach it as just another match.”
Sayreville’s girls, meanwhile, struggled this winter, yet managed to end with a surge, taking four of their final six matches. Junior Melissa Yataco led the Bombers with a 140-pin average, and freshmen Idaysa Dickerson and Samantha Szcymanski both impressed.