The Linden High School bowling team finished the season at 17-0 with a long list of team and individual accomplishments. From left are James Fitz, Matt Soto, Darius Lewis, Coach Cherie Pizzano, Anthony Golabek and Justin Peters.
By Gary Miller
The Linden High School bowling team wrapped up its season on Feb. 13 at a perfect 17-0.
As outstanding as that accomplishment is, it doesn’t give the full picture of what a great season the Tigers had.
“Their poise was amazing,” said Cherie Pizzano, who completed her 18th season as LHS bowling coach. “Whenever someone needed to make that big shot, it seemed they were able to do so.”
And there were a lot of big shots. Consider this list of accomplishments:
> The Tigers competed the triple crown of winning the North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 sectional title on Feb. 2; the Union County Tournament championship on Jan. 25; and the Watchung Conference regular season title.
> The team finished fourth overall statewide in Group 3 on Feb. 13
> The 17 wins extended a streak that began last season to 31 straight wins.
> The team set a school record for high series with a 3,270 when it beat Roselle Park on Feb. 6.
> The Tigers won the prestigious Charles A. Simon Baker Challenge on Dec. 16, defeating the eventual state Tournament of Champions winner Woodbridge High School in the process.
“I don’t think you have an idea when you’re going through the season how key certain wins are, but that definitely was a big one,” Pizzano said. “Woodbridge has always been a stellar program. So they have that reputation. But my kids were like, ‘Ah, we got this!’ So they weren’t scared. I thought I’d have to talk them up, but they were ready for the challenge.”
Making all these accomplishments even more outstanding is that they were done by a team completely made up of underclassmen – junior Darius Lewis, sophomores Anthony Golabek, Matt Soto and Justin Peters, and freshman James Fitz.
“I’ve never had such a young team perform at such a high level,” Pizzano said. “They’ve done a lot of work offseason with their junior leagues and that has really, really helped out a lot.”
Golabek finished fifth in the Union County individual championships, and Fitz finished with the high regular-season average in the Watchung Conference (204.48), followed closely by Golabek (204.29).
The Tigers had the conference title wrapped up for about two weeks before their season ended, then the goal was to go undefeated. They came out on top of a couple of tough matches in that stretch against Union and Scotch Plains-Fanwood.
With youth on their side, the Tigers can’t help but look forward to more success in the future.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how much they can improve for next year’s season,” Pizzano said. “The sky’s the limit. Especially with Jimmy being so young, then the three sophomores, and I’ll have Darius back for another season in his senior year.
“So we’re poised to go.”