Brother Martin, Chapelle favored again as prep bowling season opens Thursday
While all high school spring sports were denied the chance to compete for state championships last season because of the coronavirus pandemic, the gut punch was particularly tough in bowling.
The regular season was completed and the state championship brackets were due to be announced just days after the March 13 shutdown.
Teams around the state start the quest to complete the 2021 season and crown champions on Thursday, 1½ weeks later than normal.
The top teams in the New Orleans area last spring, the Brother Martin boys and Archbishop Chapelle girls, figure to be in the hunt once again this year.
Brother Martin, which has won four of the last five state titles, completed a seventh consecutive undefeated regular season last spring and would have entered the 2020 playoffs as the No. 2 seed.
Of the seven bowlers on Brother Martin’s 2020 squad who bowled 21 or more games in the regular season, six return, led by senior Drew Gardner, whose 210 average last season ranked seventh in the state. The Crusaders also have two other returnees who averaged 200 last spring in juniors Ricky Carmona (202) and Dylan McDonald (200).
Chapelle went 12-0 and would have entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed for the second straight year, and the Chipmunks return five starters, led by senior Sarah Rubi, the 2019 individual champion, who averaged 196 a year ago.
In 2020, Chapelle had the top four averages in the metro area, including graduated senior Jessica Ladd. Rubi, Madalyn Haas (185) and Mary Hamilton (168) will give the Chipmunks a formidable right-hand pair against any opponent in the state.
Brother Martin’s top threat in the state may come from its own district. Jesuit was 11-1 last year, losing only to Brother Martin, and returns the core of its lineup. Senior Ben Hunn’s 211 average last spring was sixth in the state and ranks highest among returnees in the metro area.
In addition to Brother Martin and Jesuit, Archbishop Rummel, Archbishop Shaw, Patrick Taylor and Holy Cross would have qualified for the 32-team boys playoffs, while Cabrini would have grabbed the final spot in the 16-team girls bracket.
On Thursday’s opening day schedule, Brother Martin travels to Bowling USA in Slidell to meet Pope John Paul II, which is fielding a team for the first time this year.
In other boys matches, Archbishop Rummel faces Kenner Discovery and Archbishop Shaw meets Crescent City Christian at AMF All Star Lanes in Kenner and East Jefferson takes on Patrick Raylor at Westside Lanes.
The only local girls match on Thursday features Mount Carmel against Academy of Our Lady at Westside. Chapelle and Cabrini were scheduled to meet at AMF, but that match was postponed.
The regular season runs through late March. Early rounds of the playoffs will be contested April 20-22 in Kenner, Houma and Baton Rouge, with the team titles decided on April 27 at Premier Lanes in Gonzales. The singles finals are the next day at All Star Lanes in Baton Rouge.
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Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…