It’s the beginning of a new era for the Elizabethtown Area High School bowling team. The Bears have a ton of rising players entering the varsity lineup for the first time this season, and to usher them in, they have new uniforms as well.
But with inexperience comes the occasional growing pains, and Elizabethtown felt them on Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Leisure Lanes in Lancaster in its first match of the season, and indeed, the first regular-season action for any winter sports team in the school. The Bears fell to Penn Manor in a 3-0 sweep (7-0 in points), struggling to get going early.
While the Comets notched six strikes in the opening three frames of the first game, Elizabethtown wound up with 10 open frames split between its five players. The Bears recovered somewhat from there, but the damage was already done. Penn Manor cruised to a 1,036-828 victory, spearheaded by a 290 from senior Jordan Kahler, who closed with 11 straight strikes after sparing the first frame.
Sophomore Derek Warfel was solid as well for the Comets with a 208, finishing with no open frames, while seniors Gavin Davidson (186) and Katelyn Welsh (183) chipped in as well. Freshman Zach Wentzel led Elizabethtown with a 177. Junior Eryn Moore and sophomore Daniel Eberle each had a 171 behind him.
“When you got kids who aren’t used to bowling varsity on a regular basis, they feel a little pressure,” Bears head coach Frank Telenko said. “I could tell. We had a ton of opens in the first three frames, but after I got them settled down a little bit, we only had six the rest of the game, so we bounced back well. I thought it was real important that they understood that I still have confidence in them, even though we didn’t bowl well.”
Penn Manor slipped up a bit to start the second, shooting four opens. That allowed Elizabethtown to hang tight for most of the game before Kahler went on another strike spree, hitting five straight between the fourth and eighth frames. Warfel had four straight late as well, which was enough to allow the Comets to pull away for the 990-913 win.
Warfel led all players with a 221, while Kahler had a 214. Davidson posted a 191, and junior Delaney Reitnauer and freshman Josh Stock split a 187. Wentzel once again had the team high for Elizabethtown at 211. Eberle (184) was solid, as were seniors Andrew Telenko (191) and Zach Deardorff (189).
“I saw us improve, but we had 11 splits in the second,” Coach Telenko said. “They strung together their strikes, and we didn’t. Every single one of them has bowled varsity before, and when you come out of the gate against a team like that, it’s encouraging that we played them more close after the first, even if we had some bad games. We just have to learn to watch what the lanes are doing, and that comes from experience. They didn’t get down on themselves, and they kept battling. (Penn Manor) can turn the switch on when they need to, and we’re just not there yet.”
The Bears began the third hot, knocking down a total of 18 strikes in the first five frames. They cooled off afterward, however, and Penn Manor was able to limit mistakes down the stretch, enough for a 1,004-933 victory. Davidson finished strong with a 235 to lead the Comets. Stock (218) and Kahler (209) also went over the 200-point mark.
Senior Ben Davis used eight strikes to reach 214 in his lone game of the day. Eberle had a 187 as well. The big story was Wentzel, who opened with seven straight strikes. He finished with a 243 to lead all players. His three-game total of 631 was the best of any Bears bowler.
“I’m not one to just hand a freshman anything,” Coach Telenko said. “I want to make sure that he’s practicing and working. The kid doesn’t miss. He makes his spares; he takes good shots; he doesn’t hurt our team and he doesn’t care about himself. You can’t keep a kid like that out of the lineup. You’ll send a bad message if you do. I think he did get a little nervous once he started thinking about those strikes, but that’ll come with experience too. He did really well today.”
With an 0-1 record (0-7 in points) to start the year, Elizabethtown was scheduled for its home opener at Clearview Lanes against Garden Spot on Wednesday, Dec. 4, in a non-section matchup. The Spartans were able to top the Bears last season, so there will be motivation to rebound this time around. Hopefully of them, they’ll be able to shake off the cobwebs.
“The mindset will be focused on consistency,” Coach Telenko said. “We just got to work on the little things that we didn’t do today. We cannot go into a match and have that many splits and opens, so we have to limit our mistakes. I think we did decent with our makeable spares, but I don’t think they trusted the bowling ball in their hand. We have to improve on what we did today.”