Prep bowling season begins locally this week
The high school bowling season in the New Orleans area begins this week with four-time defending boys state champion Brother Martin and 2021 girls champion Archbishop Chapelle both in action among five matches Thursday at Colonial Lanes in Harahan.
The Crusaders open against Patrick Taylor, one of five playoff teams from the region in 2022, while the Chipmunks – a quarterfinalist last season – face Kenner Discovery in their opener.
The area season opener is Wednesday at Westside Lanes when Academy of Our Lady meets Mount Carmel.
Brother Martin has won a record six boys state titles, all since 2015, including a dramatic 17-10 victory over Catholic High last season.
Coach Bruce Himbert returns three starters from a year ago, as his regulars on the left pair last season will move one pair to the right in 2023 – seniors Ashton Catalinotto (201 average) and Kade Chatelain (196) and junior Jacob Vangilder (207).
The other three area teams to win playoff matches last year – Archbishop Shaw, Jesuit and Archbishop Rummel – are poised for solid seasons once again.
Coach Denise Vedros’ Eagles, who reached the semifinals last March for the first time since 2010, lose only one starter and could be the area’s deepest team with a lineup that will include seniors Andrew Hill (203) and Garrett Alello (186) and sophomores Jonathan Arena (201) and Joshua Collins (185).
The Blue Jays have a pair of returning starters in seniors William Carpenter (199) and William Adams (190). The Raiders welcome back regulars Matthew Fletcher (181) and Steven Mixon (176) and have a deep influx of newcomers.
Chapelle and Academy of Our Lady have been the dominant girls teams in the region for several years, and 2023 figures to follow a similar script.
AOL, which went undefeated in the regular season before losing to Chapelle in the opening round of the playoffs, returns five starters and will again be led by senior Laney Sasso (174), the top returning average in the region. Coach Robert Chauvin, who guided the Penguins to state titles in 2018 and 2019, also welcomes in five newcomers.
Chapelle – with a new coach in Dorothy Himbert, Bruce’s wife – not only welcomes back three of its top four bowlers from last season’s quarterfinalists, but gets a bonus returnee in sophomore Olivia Bares, who was a starter on the 2021 state title team and, after averaging above 200 in fall club matches, has moved into the No. 6 spot in the lineup.
Again this year, the biggest title contenders outside of the New Orleans area will come from the Baton Rouge and Bayou regions.
On the boys side, Catholic is a perennial contender and has a pair of starters returning, while Dutchtown returns its top four average bowlers from last season, including record-setters Preston West and Ryan Beam. Vandebilt Catholic was a semifinalist a year ago and Central Lafourche is a regular threat to reach the semis.
Among the girls teams, Dutchtown has reached the semifinals each of the last two years and has a senior-laden lineup led by Nebraska signee Ashtyn Yoches. Defending state champion Denham Springs must replace three bowlers from last year’s team.
Six schools who did not compete in 2022 are scheduled to field boys teams in the New Orleans region – Hahnville, Destrehan, John Ehret, Slidell, Belle Chasse and De La Salle.
Hahnville and Destrehan will each open on Thursday at Colonial, facing Crescent City Christian and Jesuit, respectively.
The regular season runs through early March. Early round playoff matches are March 20-22, with the team finals scheduled for March 30 at Premier Lanes in Gonzales. The singles finals are March 31 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;…