As the local high school bowling teams take to the alleys this winter, the Mayfield girls have their sights set on a three-peat and a sectional championship.
The Lady Panthers opened their quest for a third-straight Western Athletic Conference championship last week with a sweep of Fort Plain.
"They had a strong season last year, and this year will only be better," Mayfield coach Rebecca Woodruff said.
Mayfield’s Tyler Dawson (The Leader-Herald)
The Lady Panthers, who finished with a 47-5 record last year, have their eye on the Class C/D sectional title after finishing third in 2011 and were runners-up to Mechanicville last year.
Seniors Selena Barber, Cassandra Hammond and Tiffany Murray, along with juniors Carly Poyfair, Virginia Johnson and Victoria Lander give the Lady Panthers a solid core of veteran bowlers.
Poyfair, who rolled a 692 series at the 2012 WAC tournament, is the reigning WAC MVP last season, while Barber is a two-time MVP, winning the honor in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
The WAC picked up a team this season as Fort Plain is fielding a girls team after a three-year absence.
The Lady Hilltoppers are anchored by sophomore Beth Mallett and senior Krista Kazillas who bowled on a combined Fort Plain squad last season.
The Canajoharie girls placed fifth in the WAC last season and return only two starters, Courtney Cyr and Sierra Vosburgh, to the alleys this season.
Fonda-Fultonville is up to the challenge of competing in the Colonial Council with six girls returning to the lanes this year. Seniors Guilyan O'Kosky, Meghan Foy, Jenna Manchester and Samantha Sweet lead the group that will be under the guidance of first-year coach Lisa Dumar.
On the boys side the Canajoharie Cougars finished with a 63-5 record against WAC opponents last year, and have a solid base of veteran bowlers to build on as they look to repeat as the WAC league champions and runner-up finish at the WAC tournament.
"We have a good core of returning players," said Dwayne Heroth who begins his 17th season as Canajoharie's coach. "Our success will depend on which one or more of our players will step up to fill the losses of Alex Yacobucci and Anthony Cardamone."
The Cougars opened their season last week and already have sweeps over league opponents Mekeel Christian Academy and Berne-Knox-Westerlo to their credit.
Bailey Pitonza has stepped up to be a contender for the number one spot on the Canajoharie roster along with Chris Parino, Damon Mason and Mike Bowman.
The Fort Plain Hilltoppers have two returning bowlers, juniors Aaron Honeywell and David Wilday, from last year's squad that placed third in the WAC.
"We are a very young team," coach Rob Jenks said. "We will look to improve our averages as the season progresses."
The Mayfield Panthers return five bowlers and are looking to move up from their fifth-place finish in the WAC.
Senior Nick Kiszka and junior Alex Colby have stepped forward as the early leaders for Mayfield. Kiszka rolled 37 pins above his 2011-12 average in the Panthers' season opener against Fort Plain, while Colby was 13 pins better than last year's average.
The Johnstown Sir Bills have some big shoes to fill after the graduation of Gus Hilts (198 average) and Cody Frank (193 average).
However, second-year coach Sarah Maiello is upbeat about the Sir Bills as they face Foothills Council competition with six returning bowlers from the squad that posted a 12-4-1 overall record and was 9-4-1 against league competition.
Junior Jimmy Marshall (205 avg.) and sophomore Morgan Ruggeri (199 avg.) will anchor a veteran squad that also includes Jay Hadcock (181 avg.), Josh Fuller (181 avg.), Alyssa Hadcock (173 avg.) and Ben Empie (156 avg.).
"Experience is the key with six bowlers returning," Maiello said. "So far, the bowlers are working hard in the preseason and with desire and dedication to the sport of bowling. The future looks very bright for the 2012-13 season."
The Gloversville Huskies will build around a senior nucleus of veterans Ben VanNostrand, Andy McManus, Mike Marotta and James Butkevich as they look to improve on their eighth-place finish at the Foothills tournament.
"My main goal is for the bowlers to improve their skills and bowl the best that they can," coach Donna Beekkering said. "I have a young team with lots of potential. As a coach, I would like to see them have fun and understand that winning is not everything. Showing good sportsmanship is equally important to me."
The Broadalbin-Perth Patriots also will be look to improve on last year's sixth-place finish at the Foothills Council championships.
The Amsterdam Rams have a solid group of starters returning from their team that posted a 44-20 record last year.
Seniors Ben Patrick (190 avg.), Zack Arsenault (190 avg.), Jake Cetnar (187 avg.) Dave Hawkins (184 avg.) and sophomore Billy McGaffin (177 avg.) all return for Coach Mark Miller.
"Our team will be very competitive in the Big 10," Miller said. "We have five returning starters, four of [whom] are seniors and they all have the potential to average 200. Billy McGaffin has been bowling extremely well early in the season, averaging around 200. Marc LaBahn, a 10th grader, is a fine addition to the team, while Joe Spagnola, Dave Puglisi and Jon LaBahn will put some pressure on the starters throughout the year, as will newcomers Brandon Little and Brendan McGillan."
The Fonda-Fultonville Braves have seven returning bowlers on their squad including Robert O'Kosky, Jesse Hayes, Lucas Squadrilo, Ethan Gifford, Cody Harding, Nick Battisti and Christian Meyer.
"While I have many years of bowling experience, this is my first year coaching the team," Dumar said. "I am very excited about this and I am looking forward to using my bowling experience to help assist our team to be successful. My goal is that our team can place in the top five for this season and I will strive to encourage the team to use their positive attitudes and great skills to master this goal for a winning season."