By Jeff Appelblatt
Darryl Birkhead, the bowling coach at Manalapan High School, knows his teams had seasons that weren’t anything to brag about. However, he has certain kids he expects to see improve in time for next year.
The top bowler the coach hopes to see big things from is Justin Korman. The junior didn’t see a significant amount of action this season for undisclosed reasons, but he still managed to show Birkhead how talented he truly is.
In one of his last games of the regular season, Korman bowled a career-best score of 293 in the middle of three games against Jackson Memorial High School.
Manalapan’s bowlers just couldn’t peak at the same moments. The boys (4-9) had problems filling a score card each outing.
The coach hopes Adam Natoli, Dan Rose and Peter Cordi can use this season as a stepping stone for next year. The trio knocked down the most pins for the Braves this year, but it was most often too few for the team to win.
Birkhead thought it was possible for one or two of his bowlers to qualify for the NJSIAA Tournament of Champions.
“They don’t even need to win. They just have to do better than their averages and finish in the top two,” he said before the Central Jersey bowling finals took place Feb. 11 at Bowlero Carolier Lanes in North Brunswick.
No Brave was able to earn a spot, though. As a team, Manalapan finished No. 6 in the Group III battle, which was won by Monroe Township High School.
The girls’ team from Manalapan will lose its best bowler, Kailey Siagkris, to graduation. She was unable to do enough to get the Braves (0-13) into the win column this season.
Birkhead is looking ahead to the boys’ tennis season.
“We have a real good team,” the coach said, remembering the tennis team’s fourth-place finish last year. “Only Marlboro [High School], [Christian Brothers Academy] and Holmdel [High School] were ahead of us last year.
“The bowling team was trying to make a tournament. The [tennis team] is trying to win tournaments.”
Birkhead is going through tryouts now for the team, but the regular season doesn’t begin until April.