Photos by Rose Sgarlato
Patrick Danielson, Joey Steele and Tim Zayac of Sussex County Tech varsity bowling team, from left, have individually qualified to compete in the state championship.
Sussex County Tech’s varsity bowling team after winning the sectionals at Lodi Lanes, placing them in the upcoming state competition. From left, Patrick Danielson, Tim Zayac, Coach Chad Gasiorek, Chris Sturm, Quentin Johnson and Joey Steele.
By rOSE sGARLATO
SPARTA — Underrated and overlooked in terms of youth sports, we often don’t talk about bowling. Yet in our own backyard bowling is extremely competitive, and this season the Mustangs of Sussex County Tech seem to have it all wrapped up.
Among a league of eight northern New Jersey high school teams, the five-member varsity team at Sussex County Tech is embarking on a huge week facing state finals. This year is unique because three students qualified for the individuals, placing them in a category of the top 64 high school bowlers in the state of New Jersey: Patrick Danielson, Tim Zayac and Joey Steele.
And in the end on Feb. 15 at Bowlero in North Brunswick, only the top 12 players from the entire state will make the final list of best high school bowlers. Also, the team will compete as a whole on Feb.17. In addition to the varsity players, there is a junior varsity team that is doing equally well and has not lost in four years.
Hard at work practicing at least three times a week after school at Sparta Lanes, the team is led by Coach Chad Gasiorek, who is also the commercial baking instructor and girl’s tennis coach at Sussex Tech.
“We’ve basically accomplished everything that we did last year. But this year we have the added bonus of the three boys qualifying individually,” said Gasiorak.
When asked about the secret to success in bowling, the coach responded: “Practice, consistency, confidence and adjusting to lane conditions.”
The team average is 989 based on one game. Typically, five players play a total of three games per competition.
Gasiorek added that there are many nuances to the game and people don’t understand the technical side of it.
It also seems to be that bowling runs in the blood for this gang. The coach and the players come from a long lineage of bowlers.
Patrick Danielson, a sophomore on the team, has a 183 average. It’s his second year on the team, and although he was nervous during his first match as a freshman, Danielson has adjusted to the pressure: “I am very excited to be in the finals, but it hasn’t hit me yet,” said Danielson, who attributes his love of bowling to his cousins. “I was surprised that I made the state individuals. I was the last one to get in.”
Tim Zayac, a 17 –year old senior, has been bowling for 14 years and has a 210 average. He is following in his brother Michael’s footsteps who finished 13th in the state five years ago.
“I grew up in a family of bowlers. We have won everything so far,” said Zayac. “ My brother has given me a lot of tips — he knows my game.”
When asked about the game plan to keeping the pace up co-captain, Zayac replied: “Keeping the team’s energy up is key. We are always better when we are louder.”
Rounding out the trio is sophomore Joey Steele. Also not a newcomer to the lanes, Steel, 16, has been bowling since he was 5 and finds competing fun.
“When I bowled my first 300 last April, it was great. Then I had a second 300 in December,” said Steele, who has an average of 211. “I don’t get nervous. I don’t think about it, I just bowl.”
The players are excited about the culmination of a great season.
“This is the biggest week that we have-I really want to see my team progress,” said Zayac.