Frank Telenko, head coach of the Elizabethtown Area High School’s varsity bowling team, admits that he had some questions regarding how his team would perform in the 2017-18 season.
“We only have two returning starters from last year,” the coach said, referring to his team’s inexperience playing at the varsity level.
Based on the Bears’ success in the season thus far, though, Telenko need not worry about his bowlers’ ability to handle starting roles. Elizabethtown has marched out to an undefeated start to the 2017-18 season. Most recently, the team bested a talented Ephrata Mountaineers squad on the road at Dutch Lanes in Ephrata on Friday, Dec. 15, winning the contest by the score of 5-2.
“It was a nice win,” Telenko said. “I wasn’t sure how we were going to do, but we came out and bowled well.”
In the match, the Bears stormed past the Mountaineers in the first two games, outscoring their opponent by a margin of 1106-943 in the first game, and a margin of 1117-987 in the second game. The Mountaineers won the match’s third game by a score of 1042-971, handing Elizabethtown their first game loss of the season (the Bears opened their schedule with a 7-0 victory over the McCaskey Red Tornado on Tuesday, Dec. 12).
“I knew they (Ephrata) were going to be good, and they were good, but we just bowled really, really well,” Telenko said.
Key to the Bears’ efforts were the performances of Patrick Hoffmaster and Elizabeth Vuxta. Hoffmaster bowled a score of 193 in the match’s first game, and a score of 235 in the second game, while Vuxta bowled a score of 240 in the first game, and a score of 266 in the second game.
“Hopefully that kind of performance comes out a lot for us this year,” the coach said. “That (Ephrata) was our first real test.”
The coach credited both Hoffmaster and Vuxta (whose total score through three games was a whopping 706 points), as well as new starter Andrew Telenko (who averaged 214.3 points over three games against Ephrata), for setting a high bar for Elizabethtown against the Mountaineers.
“We had two back-to-back stellar games,” the coach said. “For Elizabeth to shoot a 700, she wasn’t even expecting it. So I’m not expecting her to do that every week, but it just shows that we can compete when we’re actually concentrating and keeping our minds on what we’re supposed to do. It was good to see the young kids come up and be able to perform and to bowl well.”
The three players’ contributions were more meaningful since Elizabethtown competed against the Bears without varsity bowler Katelyn Garman, who missed a weekly practice to make up a test, and competed in the junior varsity portion of the match against Ephrata.
“My policy is that if they don’t make the practice, for whatever reason, I don’t start them,” Telenko said.
Asked about the successful strategy he and his team utilized against Ephrata, Telenko said he encouraged his bowlers to study their opponent during the match to see how they tackled Dutch Lanes’ oil pattern.
“I tell the kids to just watch the other team and where they’re throwing their ball,” Telenko said. “Because they bowl there all the time. So there’s nothing wrong with watching the other team and finding out where they’re rolling it.”
Telenko did admit such a strategy may have grown less effective in the match’s third game, when Elizabethtown’s pin totals and scores were not as high.
“We bowled an average game, which wasn’t bad,” the coach said. “But the lanes did start to hook a lot, and we just didn’t make the adjustment as quickly as the other team did.”
Still, the early experience competing at Dutch Lanes could serve the Bears well, as they play a number of matches against other opponents at the bowling alley this season.
“It’s nice to know that when we go in there, we know what we are supposed to do and where we’re supposed to put it in the lane,” Telenko said.
The win over Ephrata moves Elizabethtown to a match record of 2-0 on the season, earning them the top spot on the Lancaster-Lebanon League’s Section 2. (The Bears maintained that top spot by besting the Hempfield Black Knights by the score of 5-2 on Monday, Dec. 18).
Despite their solid beginning to the season, Telenko knows his team will need to keep up their high level of play and continue to improve if they want to hold their own against the perennially competitive teams — the Penn Manor Comets, the Warwick Warriors, and the Cedar Crest Falcons among them — they will face over the remainder of their 2017-18 schedule.
“Now there has to be a new leader, a new group of leaders that steps up,” Telenko said. “And they have to know the difference between not making a mistake and going out and winning a match.”