Bowling Over the Competition

Despite a second-round playoff exit, the Stuyvesant girls’ varsity bowling team made major strides in a season that saw them place first in their division.

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By Ibtida Khurshed

Dominant: the only word to describe the Stuyvesant girls’ varsity bowling team this fall. With a 9-1 record this regular season, the Peglegs finished on top of their division heading into the playoffs.

This was new territory for the Peglegs. The year prior, they finished near the bottom in standings and struggled to find direction heading into the offseason. Their previous coach, Eric Wisotsky, went on a sabbatical after the season, leaving the looming question of who would coach the team. However, with the help of new leadership and players, the team rebounded stronger than ever.

Both improved veterans and new recruits made the Peglegs’ starting lineup deeper than last season, ensuring that each game would have capable bowlers. A bowling match is broken down into a best-of-three games: A, B, and C. Both sides put out four bowlers for every game, and each bowler can score up to 200 pins. Subsequently, each game is determined by the total scores from each side. Juniors Celise Lin and Eva Konopka both joined this season and made an immediate impact as rookies, averaging 92 and 95 pins per game, respectively. Junior and captain Emily Ng, who already had a season under her belt, averaged 107 pins in an integral leadership role. Junior and third-year veteran Ibtida Khurshed averaged 92 pins while providing much-needed advice to first-time bowlers. “My top three players would be Celise, Eva, and Ibtida,” Ng said. “There wasn’t only one breakout player this year.”

The Peglegs also felt a greater community amongst themselves compared to prior years. Camaraderie ran at an all-time high. “I feel like the bowling team has become a really close-knit community compared to last year,” Ng said. “Last year, we were a bit more distant.” The Peglegs started eating together before and after games, and they even created their own Instagram account to preserve memories from this season.

To fill the coaching vacancy, Dr. Anna Markova stepped forward and took the team’s reins. She was the last missing piece to the team’s success. “She dedicated her personal time, and she made sure that we do practices on the weekdays alongside the weekends,” Ng said. “She had never bowled before, but she did a great job.” Dr. Markova not only devoted her own time to the team but also made sure to support players during games and give pointers. “If someone had bowled poorly for a frame or two, she would make sure that they weren’t discouraged,” Lin said. “She would tell us to keep it straight and focus on the next one.”

The Peglegs still faced multiple challenges during their season. Due to their small roster, the team risked automatically forfeiting matches where they wouldn’t have the required eight bowlers. “One of the challenges for us was we had exactly eight people on the team, up until the fifth game of the season,” Lin said. This was when Lin, a first-time bowler, decided to join the team.

Commuting to games was also a major struggle. “We went to Staten Island, and then Brooklyn, and then deep Queens, and Flushing,” Ng said. “So we went all over New York City for games.” However, the team made the most of these trips and would often plan their meals around the new locations they visited.

Despite all the roster and commute challenges, the Peglegs broke into the postseason. They faced the higher-seeded Staten Island Tech in the first round, whom they defeated 2-1 in a tight match. Ng led the way with performances of 146 and 127 pins in games A and C, respectively. “We were pretty confident that we were okay but, of course, there was that small hesitation because they were seeded so much higher than us,” Lin said. “Staten Island Tech had the bigger team, and they were chanting and cheering the whole time. This sounds so cheesy, but we didn’t let that stop us. The feeling of defeating someone that underestimated us—it felt good to prove ourselves.”

The Peglegs also entered their second-round matchup against Townsend Harris as underdogs. Despite a strong effort to pull out another upset, the team lost a close 2-1 match to finish their season. Khurshed bowled a season-high 168 pins in game A and all four Peglegs scored above 100 for the deciding game C, but the team fell just short of victory. However, the Peglegs are far from disappointed with their incredible year. They will continue to hone their skills and hold meetings over the offseason. “We are going to do offseason practice for sure, and we will also likely organize some meetings with the boys’ bowling team as well,” Lin said. “As for next year, we’re definitely going to try to recruit more underclassmen so we can have a bigger team.” The roster can only grow during the offseason since the Peglegs have no current seniors. This means that the Peglegs will most likely eliminate their roster fulfillment struggles and have better odds at a deep playoff run next year.

The best aspect of this season might not be what you expect. “Pizza,” Ng said. “For most of the games we had pizza before. So pizza and dessert, that’s our secret to winning.” With a wider roster, an even stronger sense of community, and the power of food, it’s time to hop on the Peglegs bandwagon for next year.