Bowling: Roster growth gives St. Charles athletes to spare

Scott Hennen
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Participation numbers are up for the St. Charles bowling team despite the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Some programs have seen a reduction in roster size because of the pandemic, but the Cardinals are up to 19 bowlers from 13 last season.

One change because of concerns caused by the coronavirus is the coach, as Brennan Weiner stepped down after one season. He will still have an administrative position with the program, but he will not be at the lanes because his wife is pregnant.

“We have more kids this season than we’ve had in my six seasons around the program,” said coach Dan Koeth, who was an assistant to Weiner last season. “It’s pretty promising with four bowlers back with varsity experience.”

“We’ve been in quarantine and I think kids are looking for something to do. I think it was easy for parents to say yes to bowling after finding out it’s something that’s non-contact and can easily have social distancing.”

Seniors Nick Bastaja and Teague O’Brien were starters last season when the Cardinals were 14-3 overall and finished second in both the COHSBC-D Division (11-2) and the CCL (6-2) behind DeSales, which was 12-1 and 7-1, respectively. 

Seniors Nick Lusky and Max Taylor also saw some varsity action, and senior Cole Hankinson and his freshman brother, Stu Hankinson, are expected to contribute as well.

Bastaja said his experience as a kicker for the football program helped him acclimate to the protocols of the winter season.

“(Playing football) definitely helped me know what to expect with some of the protocols and some of the struggles we’ll have,” said Bastaja, who led the team last season with a 177.3 average. “It helped me explain to the younger guys what will happen from what I experienced in football. We just have to keep going.”

O’Brien averaged 167.4 last season, and Taylor averaged 145.9.

“Teague and Nick Lusky, Max Taylor and I are the last of the coach Bill (Pritchard)-era bowlers for us,” said Bastaja, referring to the former head coach and longtime assistant who died of cancer in August 2019. “We have a lot of new guys, which is great. So many of the new guys have never bowled, so we’re helping them out. The varsity should be strong this year, especially if the younger guys keep getting better.”

The roster consists of all seniors and freshmen. The remaining seniors are Cole Abbott, Jack Carson, Ethan Clark and Justin Imber.

“These seniors are ready to go, and this is their year,” said Koeth, who is assisted by longtime area youth instructor Jeff Colley. “It’s unfortunate that we’re going to have to reschedule five matches, which might not happen with what’s been going on. There’s only so much time at the lanes and the matches need to be socially distanced. It’s been difficult all the way around.”

The Cardinals are scheduled to open Jan. 4 with a COHSBC-D contest against Africentic at Gahanna Lanes. They are slated to begin CCL play Jan. 6 against Hartley at Holiday Lanes.

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Coach: Dan Koeth, first season

Top athletes: Nick Bastaja, Nick Lusky, Teague O’Brien and Max Taylor

Key losses: Jack Anderson, Dino Colasurd, Vinnie Foresta and John Melliere

Last season: 14-3 overall

2020 finishes: Tied for second in COHSBC-D, second in CCL, 26th at sectional