Central boys bowling is back on top.
On Feb 25. the Lancers felled Randolph Skill Center 3-1 at Erie Lanes to capture the Public League Championship. It was an especially sweet victory for Coach Richard Johns and the team given last year’s close title loss to Central nemesis Northeast High.
And it put the trophy back at Ogontz and Olney for the first time since 2010. Central’s lineup was anchored by phenom Brian Kennedy of the 276, who’s regular-season high-game score was also his class number and came in the season’s opening match against NE.
“Brian Kennedy is a great bowler,” said Coach Johns. “He is probably at a professional level. Just from what I’ve seen on TV he would give most professional bowlers a very good match. And he would beat most of them if he was on his game.”
Makes sense since Brian’s been hurling a ball since he was 4 years old–with no bumpers to keep it from going in the gutters either. Brian obviously developed some serious skills between then and now through the guidance of his bowling parents, to make him the All Public player he is today. In his lifetime he has bowled nine perfect games.
Also making All Public this year for Central was the team’s lead-off bowler, Tyler Weissinger (274). The other squad members were Derrick Troung (275), Alex Hotroung (274), Than Nguyen (274), Second Team All Public Brandon Bolden (277) and Second Team All Public Tyler Stawicki (276).
Coach Johns’ girls squad–Puja Patel (274), Amy Huang (274), Patrycja Kolczynska (274), Autumn Walker(274) and Tynecia Wilson (275)–finished with a record of 34-6 and made it to the playoffs as well this year, but lost in the quarter finals. Autumn and Tynecia both were selected All Public.
Tyler Weissinger, Coach Richard Johns and Brian Kennedy
Though bowling is no longer recognized by the Philadelphia School District as a varsity sport, it is still high drama. Coach Johns guides the team as a whole and on their individual performances, particularly after he’s observed them in a match, but basically when it’s show time they are on their own.
“It’s not a football or soccer game where you can yell instructions out anytime you want,” said the coach, who is in his fourth year at Central and coaches girls soccer. “It can be frustrating sometimes. It can be nail-biting because a match can change very quickly.”
For an athlete as skilled as Brian he says he just tries to keep him focused. “There’s not much I can teach him or coach him with. Even when he’s having a bad day he’ll put up a real good score.”
One thing the coach absolutely stresses? “Every pin counts– because we have lost games by one pin. We have lost matches by one pin. We’ve had students not make All Public or qualify for states by one pin.”
Tyler Weissinger loves the sport because it’s competitive and fun. He also plays baseball for the Holy Terrors club in Mayfair but not for Central. The intensive schedule when he played junior varsity his sophomore year, he said, made it seem more like a job.
In the fall Tyler will be bowling for Coastal Carolina University in Myrtle Beach, S. C. Though the school is Division I, bowling is on a lower level.
The downgrade of bowling from the varsity level in Philadelphia a few years ago is something that frustrates Coach Johns, especially given its continued high interest among students.
“You come to one of our matches on Wednesdays and you’ll see 250 kids all bowling, ready to go, on one day. ” The regular-season play on Wednesdays, in which each match consists of four games, were getting so crowded that play was spilled over to Thursdays, too. “We have 60 teams in the public league now.”
Coach Johns credits Donald Armstead (233)–a Central bowler of yesteryear who is now bowling chairman for the Public League, a bowling coach and widely active in regional play–with keeping bowling alive in the school district.
Central boys finished this year with a record of 39-1. The Lancers had the championship wrapped up after the first three of four games.
“The last game was just for bragging rights,” said Brian. “That was just for the perfect season, which we didn’t get, but I didn’t really care because we won the championship.”
Central also competed this past weekend in the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional High School Bowling Championships in Lancaster.
In the individuals, Brian advanced to the whole state tournament, which is set for March 20. Brian qualified with a series score of 1151 pins out of a possible 1500, over five games. He finished an outstanding 5th out of 176 bowlers. He is ranked 5th among Eastern Pennsylvania high-schoolers.
Tyler Weissinger put up an impressive 1,000 pins in the individuals.
As a team on Saturday Central finished second among Philadelphia schools and 20th overall out of 36 teams. Brian was 2nd overall with a high game of 278. He also had the high series overall with 779 pins over three games.
Yvonne Dennis (246)