Mineola High School’s Jackie Lewis isn’t exactly sure who it was in her body bowling way above her normal level at the Nassau County championships on Feb. 4.
But she’s pretty certain it wasn’t her.
“I have no idea what happened there, it certainly didn’t feel like myself,” the senior said with a laugh. “I have no clue what made me bowl (so much better), but I’m so happy I did.”
In part because Lewis averaged 20 points above her normal 150 average, the Mustangs were able to repeat as county champions, finishing 88 pins ahead of second-place MacArthur and advancing to the state championships on March 10 in Syracuse.
“That’s what is so great about our team, that when some of us don’t bowl as well other people pick us up,” said junior Michaela Palumbo, who had the second-highest average in the county this season at 192.5. “Jackie and the others picked me up and it made me so happy to see.”
The Mustangs rolled (pun intended) into counties having gone undefeated this winter, piling up the pins behind top bowler Palumbo and No. 2 Kelsey Morrison, a junior who averaged 168 for the year.
“I call them Frick and Frack,” coach Mark Miller said. “Kelsey is a little more demonstrative, gets pumped up a little more, while Michaela is really steady and makes great adjustments when she needs to.”
“Yeah I’m definitely a little more emotional, where Michaela is so calm and a great leader,” Morrison said. “Our team really did a good job of staying strong knowing everyone was gunning for us.”
Besides Lewis, Morrison and Palumbo, Mineola was led by Emma Foley, Kate Flynn, Brianna DiVirgilio, and Leanna Quello, new to the team this year.
Now the Mustangs, who watched their school hang a banner honoring them after the county triumph, will try to conquer the state championships, where last year they finished ninth.
“Last year we were a little intimidated and didn’t know what to expect, and we didn’t expect every other team to be so insanely good,” Palumbo said. “This year I think we’ll be a little calmer and ready to do better.”
While the Mineola girls are looking to complete a perfect season with a state championship win, another local bowler achieved some perfection of his own a few weeks ago.
On Jan. 18 Vikings senior bowler Matt Nochowitz rolled twelve consecutive strikes to record his first-ever perfect game.
In a match against Carle Place at Bowlero of Mineola, Nochowitz achieved the 300 in the second game of the day, and was mobbed by his teammates after the final strike.
No one was more surprised than he was that of all days, that was when it happened.
“I was having a pretty bad day; I forgot one of my bowling balls at my house, and I forgot my captain’s badge,” Nochowitz said. “So I was little off my game and then got to the lanes and tried to relax.”
Nochowitz, whose previous high game was a 268, said it was around the sixth frame when he felt he was really locked in, but he didn’t start thinking of the perfecto until the final frame.
By that time, North Shore coach Brian Rodahan said, the whole bowling alley was aware of what was happening on lane 19.
“Once he got to strike No. 8, everyone took notice,” Rodahan said. “By strike nine, everyone stopped what they were doing as he got to his approach. And by the 10th strike, everyone was cheering.
“I’m so proud Matt was able to achieve a feat like this that was four years in the making.”
Nochowitz said he wasn’t nervous until the 11th shot, when he looked up “and saw more people than ever had watched me bowl” crowded around his lane.
When he threw the final strike, he said he knew it was good as soon as it left his hand.
As his teammates celebrated with him, even the Carle Place opponents congratulated Nochowitz, and workers at Bowlero came over to shower him with praise.
Nochowitz will be attending Cortland State next year to play baseball.