LIVINGSTON, NJ — The Livingston High School bowling team is coming off the 2016-2017 season with an overall record of 16-2 and what the team is calling the “Trifecta”—winning the conference, county and state sectional titles.
In addition to those titles, the Lancers also set a new school record of 1163 pins in a single game and finished third in the prestigious Warren Wheeler Tournament, sponsored by Westfield High School, at Jersey Lanes in Linden.
“That gave us our first clue that we were going to be decent because that is a pretty prestigious tournament,” said head coach Griff Hughes. “It’s building every year and the best schools come to it.”
With only six boys on the varsity team, NJ.com named Livingston boys bowling the “clear favorite” in the Group 4 tournament.
After the first of three games in the county championship, the team was only one pin behind James Caldwell. The Lancers came in behind Millburn in the second game to hold second place, but Millburn failed to break 900 in the third game and Livingston came home with the win by 99 pins.
After winning the county title, three Livingston boys made it into the top 12 for the individual county series. Each bowler had three games, in which Livingston freshman Michael Liu had the best series overall with 680 to earn the No. 1 seed in the individual tournament.
Despite placing second overall in the individual tournament, Hughes said Liu is an outstanding freshman bowler and was enthusiastic about his future.
In fact, Liu rolled a 792 series to set a new individual school series record for Livingston High School during the season.
“We had an outstanding year,” said Hughes. “All of our bowlers improved in varying degrees over the year with practice and instruction. Our JV squad went 53-1 and only lost one game the entire year, so that was outstanding for them, too.”
The varsity team includes senior co-captains Justin Schoenbach and Zachary Schwartz; senior Allen Cai, who was named Livingston Athlete of the Week earlier this year; senior Alec Ammerata; junior Louis Farer; and freshman Michael Liu.
Farer’s mother, Sharryn Farer, whose older son, Sam, was captain of the bowling team in 2016, said being on the bowling team has been great for both of her boys.
“It's been a wonderful and successful year for the team,” she said. “As parents of the players, we wish the LHS community was more familiar with the bowling team and would encourage their kids to try out each year. Over the years, the bowling team has been one of the most successful for LHS.”
The younger Farer, who has been around the team since 7th grade supporting his brother, said every member of the varsity team was proud of the Lancers’ success this season. Despite losing some key players, Farer said he looks forward to the next bowling season and hopes the team can be equally as successful as it was this year.
“One of the things I love the most about the team is that everyone is extremely supportive of one another, whether someone is playing JV or varsity,” he said. “We will miss four of our varsity players who will be graduating this year who were strong assets to the team.”
Co-captains Schwartz and Schoenbach both acknowledged the junior varsity team for its incredibly successful season and for the support the JV team showed the varsity players throughout the year.
“It was an honor to play with my teammates on varsity and I'm very proud of how we came together as a team during big matches and tournaments,” said Schwartz. “This season is a memory I won't forget, especially with all the hardware we took home just titles what we've been doing all season—winning.”
Schoenbach said the players sometimes felt discouraged and never thought they would make it as far as they did, but were able to accomplish a Trifecta under the direction of Coach Hughes.
“This year has been a success not only from our success as a team but our individual growth as well,” said Schoenbach. “We would always bring each other up when we were down and did our part in helping the team succeed.”
Schwartz thanked the parents for their support this year as well as throughout his four-year bowling career. He also thanked Hughes for all the hard work he has put into the team.
Hughes retired this week as a Livingston educator, but said he would continue to coach the bowling team and encouraged anyone thinking about joining next season to try out.
“It’s a fun sport,” said Hughes. “It’s a non-contact sport, but it’s something they can take with them their entire lives. It’s a sport you can leave high school with and keep doing.”
Bowling is a winter sport and begins in November.
“I advise anyone thinking about joining the team next year to try out and give it a shot because there is a unique level of comradery within our team as well as with the other teams in the conference, which you rarely see in a high school sport,” said Farer. “Being on this team has greatly enhanced my time in high school where I can put my schoolwork aside and have some fun for the afternoon.”
The above photo was provided by Don Schwartz.