Spartans On the Roll to Victory

The Spartans came away with an easy 2 first wins, looking to sweep the division, and continue to bowl higher to be seeded higher in the playoffs with their strong team.

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By James Lee

“We have the best overall team,” Stuyvesant Spartans coach Di Wu said. While this might seem like a pompous conjecture, considering the Spartans have won only their first two season games, they have good reason to be aiming high.

The Spartans, Stuyvesant’s boys’ bowling team, won their first game against the High School of Arts and Design at Astoria Bowl on September 29. The A and B teams both won their respective matches; the A team bowled a total of 579 pins, and the B team bowled a total of 538. Thus, the game was clinched best-of-three even before the C team took the floor. “It was a pretty normal game,” senior and co-captain Jihui Xue said. “We never lost to them last year, so it was an expected win.”

Senior and co-captain Yongfei Zheng and sophomore Samuel Fang stood out in their performances. Zheng bowled an incredible 180 for the A team, easily beating his PSAL average last year of 101. He had five total strikes; three consecutively from the fourth to sixth frames, and then three more in the ninth and 10th. “I have confidence in [Zheng in]setting the tone for others. He is consistent and brings the team’s spirits up,” coach Wu said. Zheng is one among the three juniors from last year’s B team who have stepped up to form the core group of the A team this year. Yongfei Zheng, Jihui Xue, and James Lee are co-captains and are all expected by coach Wu to bowl above a 160 average this season. He is one of the reasons Xue feels so optimistic about this season: “I feel like we’re a lot better than last year, and this time, we'll definitely go further in the playoffs,” Xue said.

“The real surprise was Samuel Fang from the B team,” coach Wu said. Fang, who didn’t even bowl as a starter last year, is now a rising star. “He practiced during the summer on his own, and had the highest score [187 pins] among the A and B team on [September] 29.” Samuel is expected to join junior teammate Lingpeng Chen to form next year’s core group.

The Spartans had their second victory against Beacon High School, again at Astoria Bowl, on October 5. Again, the game was taken by the A and B teams’ back-to-back wins. All members of the A team were solid and won by a total of 651-436. The B team won by a total of 525-412 and saw an incredible feat by senior Wesley Chen, who bowled a 189.

Looking forward, Coach Wu expects the Spartans to repeat their performance as division champs this season. However, the team’s goal is not just to win the division, but also to climb higher on the PSAL ranking. “PSAL ranks teams based upon the highest number of pins scored each game,” Wu said. “If we can score north of 170 pins, we will be ranked in the top 16 teams in the NYC.” The Spartans will then once again make it to the playoffs, but ideally as a higher seeded team. With the higher seeding, the next step would be to avoid the superior Staten Island teams early in the playoffs, perhaps playing them in the quarterfinals while hosting home games. “Though we’re good enough for our division, the whole team would have to improve collectively if we have any hopes of defeating the Staten Island teams,” Lee said.

Coach Wu has emphasized to his players the importance of closing frames (a strike or spare), as the following throw after a closed frame is added bonus points. “If all frames are closed, players can pretty much score a 200 in every game,” Wu said. Fang is a prime example of this. In the first game, Fang closed all his frames except in the tenth, which accounted for his high score of 182.

Composure and mentality are also vital, and coach Wu works to keep everyone’s temperature at a good level during game management. “All players have the capacity to bowl over 200, but they must stay confident and not get offset,” Wu said. “Players need to play their own game and not be affected by other players or their previous frames. In bowling, you compete against yourself. It's you and the pin. So 80, if not 90 percent is mental.”

“The strength is that the team is very close knit. Among them, there is friendly competition, and everyone drives each other forward,” Wu said. “We have the best overall team. Other teams may have a few good players, but we are the best, from top to down, one through eight. If other teams want to beat us, they have to beat us all.”