Todd Bell is something of a pioneer at Brattleboro Union High School, as he has taken on leadership of two new varsity sports — bowling and unified basketball.
Unified basketball has been successful, as the Colonels won the state title last season in only the second year of the team’s existence.
Bowling has been a little tougher.
This is the second season that bowling is a varsity sport at BUHS, and in Vermont. Brattleboro, which had a club-level program for several years, was one of 12 schools who debuted varsity teams last season after the Vermont Principals’ Association finally gave its approval to making bowling a sanctioned interscholastic sport.
While the Colonels have not seen success at the lanes in terms of wins and losses, Bell is taking the long view.
“It took us years to convince the VPA that bowling should be a varsity sport,” Bell said. “It’s going to take just as long for us to build up a competitive varsity program.”
Bowling is a good alternative for students who want to be engaged in a winter sport, but who don’t have the speed and agility to play basketball or hockey. It’s also a sport that you can continue to play for decades after graduation, as shown by the bowlers in their 70s and 80s in the Brattleboro Senior League.
Bell has only two returning bowlers from last season’s team, seniors Logan Morton and Jacob Williams. The other five members of the team — Daemon Hentschel, Kassandra Smith, Kyle Simuro, Kierstan Landin and Zach Thomas — are new to the team.
On Jan. 27, the Colonels had their first home match of the season, at Brattleboro Bowl, as they played host to Fair Haven, Hartford, and Oxbow.
At matches, teams are allowed to bring up to eight bowlers. Each rolls two individual games to determine team seeding for the next phase, the Baker format.
In the first round of individual games, Williams rolled a 170 to lead the Colonels, while Hentschel had a 141, followed by Morton (104), Smith (102), Simuro (101), Landin (69), and Thomas (67).
Round two saw Williams again as the top scorer with 153, but Morton rebounded with a 148. Hentschel slipped to 112, followed by Smith (97), Landin (75), Thomas (73), and Simuro (49).
Under Baker rules, five bowlers per team compete in a best-of-three match. Each bowler completes two frames, but coaches can use substitutes, even within a frame, if they wish. It is useful if a coach thinks that a particular bowler has a better chance of converting a spare. The catch is that the substitute has to finish out the game in progress.
All of the Colonel bowlers got a chance to participate in the Baker games. In the first game against Fair Haven, Thomas had a strike, Hentschel had two spares, and Morton, Landin, and Williams each added a spare for a score of 146, which wasn’t enough to beat the Slaters’ score of 152.
The second Baker game was not as close as Fair Haven beat the Colonels, 169-120. Morton had a strike and a spare, and Hentschel added a spare.
Oxbow swept the next two Baker games against the Colonels. The Olympians took the first match, 133-119, as Landin, Morton, Hentschel, and Williams each had a spare.
Brattleboro lost the second Baker game, 145-101. Hentschel had a pair of strikes, while Williams added a strike and Simuro had a spare.
While Fair Haven won the match, Bell said he was pleased that he saw improvement, especially from Hentschel.
But Bell is already looking ahead to next year, and hopes the five new bowlers who came out this season stick with the sport and work on their games through the spring and summer, He also hopes that more BUHS students will give the sport a try.
• Brattleboro is now 7-6 after a 64-47 win over Drury on Jan. 24 at the BUHS gym. They are now ranked No. 9 in Division I, and need to put together a winning streak to assure themselves of at least one home playoff game.
• Leland & Gray fell behind 15-2 after the first 10 minutes of the game, and never fully recovered as they lost, 49-37, to Mount St. Joseph in Rutland on Jan. 22.
To the Rebels’ credit, they did mount a comeback and cut the Mounties’ lead to 31-28 early in the fourth quarter, but MSJ outscored the Rebels, 18-9, the rest of the way and held on to win.
MSJ’s Lyndsey Elms led all scorers with 15 points, while Sydney Hescock was the Rebels’ top scorer with 13 points.
On Jan. 25, the Rebels pulled out a 36-30 win over Green Mountain in Chester. After a slow start for both teams, the Chieftains led by as many as eight points before the Rebels started whittling away at the lead. Reilly Merrill led Green Mountain with 12 points, while Kelsi Bostrum had 12 points and Maris Linder chipped in eight for Leland & Gray, now 4-6.
• Bellows Falls picked up a 65-56 win at Springfield on Jan. 25. BF led for the entire game, but Springfield made the Terriers work hard to get the win.
Taylor Goodell led the Terriers with 27 points, while Halle Dickerson added 12. Hannah Crosby was Springfield’s top scorer with 20 points.
Despite a 9-2 record, the Terriers are ranked eighth in Division II. There are seven teams with three losses or fewer ahead of BF, with Fair Haven in control of the top spot.
• Twin Valley picked up its second win of the season with a 56-24 victory over Poultney in a Jan. 23 game in Whitingham.
• Brattleboro’s ninth straight loss came on Jan. 20 as visiting Fair Haven left with a 59-52 win.
• Bellows Falls ended a five-game losing streak on Jan. 26 with a 75-61 road win over Fair Haven. BF is now 2-6.
• Leland & Gray fell to 3-8 with a 61-60 loss at Arlington on Jan. 24.
• Twin Valley beat Long Trail, 46-27, at home on Jan. 23, but lost 51-42 at Arlington on Jan. 26. The Wildcats are now 4-6.
• Brattleboro improved to 5-6-1 and moved up to the No. 6 spot in Division II with a 5-4 overtime win over Lyndon at Withington Rink on Jan. 24. Gabe Heiden scored with 2:10 left in overtime to cap off an improbable rally.
Trailing 4-1, the Colonels scored three consecutive goals to force overtime. Mason Powers had two goals for the Colonels, including the game-tying goal at the end of regulation time. Nathan Powers and Kam Pelkey also scored. Pelkey and Anthony Palomba were credited with assists on Heiden’s game-winning goal.
Brattleboro goalies Sam Griffith and Austin Wood combined for 24 saves.
• South Burlington is in first place in Division II, and flexed their scoring muscles in an 8-0 shutout of Brattleboro on Jan. 24 at Withington Rink.
Junior forward Katie Hall led the Wolves with three goals and two assists. Claire Wright, Kayleigh Douglas, Myah Dougherty, Lilly Truchon, and Emma Havers also scored. Wolves goaltender Lyssa Tan made a total of six saves to get the win.
Despite this loss, and a 9-0 home loss on Jan. 22, the Colonels are 4-5-1 and are tied with Missisquoi and North Country for the No. 4 spot in Division II.
Clark, Logan clinch last two spots on Olympic team
• It went right down to the wire, but snowboarder Kelly Clark, formerly of West Dover, earned her fifth trip to the Winter Olympics.
Clark, 34, who won gold in 2002 and bronze in 2010 and 2014 — found out last week that she will travel to Pyeongchang, South Korea; part of a U.S. Olympic Team delegation that includes 20 Vermonters or athletes with school ties to Vermont.
A 17-year member of the U.S. Snowboard Team, she has 70 career wins in the pro circuit and is hands down the most dominant competitive snowboarder in history. Clark has appeared in 19 consecutive Winter X Games, the longest streak in the event’s history. In her three qualifying events this season, she had two third-place finishes and a fourth-place finish.
Devin Logan, 24, a 2014 slopestyle skiing silver medalist from West Dover, was on the bubble to qualify for the U.S. Ski Team. She also found out last week that she made it after a third-place finish in the halfpipe at that weekend’s qualifier at Mammoth Mountain.
Logan has been concentrating on the halfpipe the last couple of years, and could become the first skier to win an Olympic medal in both slopestyle and freestyle skiing. She did win a silver in the halfpipe in the 2017 world championships.
Vermonters on the Alpine ski team include Ryan Cochran-Siegle, 25, of Starksboro, whose mother, Barbara Ann Cochran of Richmond’s venerated Cochran’s Ski Area, won slalom gold at the 1972 Olympics.
Also on the team is Jared Goldberg, 26, a Boston native who learned to ski at Killington before moving to Utah; Nolan Kasper, 28, of Warren, who also competed in 2010 and 2014; and Mikaela Shiffrin, 22, a Burke Mountain Academy graduate who, four years ago at age 18, became the youngest ever to win an Olympic slalom gold medal.
The Biathlon teams have a strong Vermont flavor starting with Susan Dunklee, 31, a 2014 competitor from Barton, whose father, Stan Dunklee, cross-country skied in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics; Lowell Bailey, 36, a UVM graduate who participated in 2006, 2010 and 2014; and Emily Dreissigacker, 29, of Morrisville, sister of 2014 Olympic biathlete Hannah Dreissigacker and daughter of Judy Geer, rower at the 1976 and 1984 Summer Games, and Dick Dreissigacker, rower at the 1972 Olympics.
Cross-country skiing will be represented by Sophie Caldwell, 27, of Peru, a 2014 Olympian whose grandfather, John Caldwell, cross-country skied at the 1952 Winter Games; Jessie Diggins, 26, a fellow 2014 Olympian who spends her summers training in Stratton; Simi Hamilton, 30, a Middlebury College graduate who also competed in 2010 and 2014; Andy Newell, 34, of Shaftsbury, an Olympian in 2006, 2010 and 2014; Ida Sargent, 29, of Craftsbury, a 2014 Olympian; and Liz Stephen, 31, of East Montpelier, an Olympian in 2010 and 2014.
Besides Logan, freestyle skiing will be represented by Caroline Claire, 17, of Manchester Center, a senior at Stratton Mountain School, and Emerson Smith, 20, of Dover, a first-time moguls competitor.
Ice hockey will be represented by Ryan Gunderson, 32, a UVM graduate who holds the school record for most games played in a career (148), and Amanda Pelkey, 25, of Montpelier, UVM’s all-time leader in goals (49), assists (56) and points (105).
Besides Clark, the other snowboarder with Vermont ties is Lindsey Jacobellis, 32, a Stratton Mountain School graduate. She has 27 World Cup wins and 43 total podium finishes in 72 starts — more than any other snowboardcross racer in the world. She earned her Olympic medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and her 12 overall X Games medals (10 of them gold) are the third-most by a snowboarder, trailing only Shaun White and Kelly Clark.
Senior bowling roundup
• Week 4 of the winter edition of the Brattleboro Senior Bowling League saw Team 10’s unbeaten streak end. An 0-5 week dropped their record to 15-5 and tied them with Team 2, also 15-5, for second. With a 5-0 week, Team 4 took over first place at 17-3.
Team 7, (13-7) is in sole possession of third. Team 5 (12-8) is still in fourth place, followed by Team 3 (11-9), and Team 8 and Team 6 (both 7-13), Team 11 (7-8), Team 9 (5-10), and Team 1 (2-18).
Jeanne Czuy had the women’s high handicap game (239) and series (649), while Ken Chamberlin had the men’s high handicap game (262) and series (698). Team 6 had the high team handicap game (932) and series (2,587).
Gary Montgomery (629) and Charles Marchant (618) rolled 600-plus series. Montgomery had a 245 and a 203 game, while Marchant had a 224 and a 212.
Donna Corliss (524) had her second straight 500-plus series to lead the women. while Fred Ashworth (579), Warren Corriveau Sr. (594), Marty Adams (535), and Jerry Dunham (596) were the men with 500-plus series.