Mineola girls bowling three-peats as county champs

Mineola girls bowling three-peats as county champs
Kelsey Morrison (left) and Michaela Palumbo have led the Mineola girls bowling team to its third straight county team title. Photo credit: Nate Lewis

Most of the time, doing something repeatedly means it gets easier as it goes along.

Not so when you’re trying to defend a championship. The target on your back is a bullseye that only gets bigger the more you win.

The Mineola girls bowling team had won two straight Nassau titles coming into last week’s county match and were looking to do something unprecedented in school history.

But the rollers from Levittown’s MacArthur High School were closing in, and midway through the Feb. 2 county championship at Bowlero in East Meadow, the gap had closed to just 80 pins.

“This was definitely more nerve-wracking than the last two,” senior Kelsey Morrison, Mineola’s No.2 bowler, said with a smile. “We knew how good (MacArthur) was and we knew we had to keep bowling our best to stay ahead.”

And that’s exactly what the Mustangs did, as for the second year in a row their depth proved the difference.

With Morrison and top bowler Michaela Palumbo bowling at or just below their averages, the rest of the Mineola team stepped up, and the Mustangs grabbed a win, with a 5,026 combined six-game score besting MacArthur’s 4,805.

“So proud of all of them, because this wasn’t an easy thing to do, with everyone gunning for us,” coach Mark Miller said. “We had our top two bowl well and then everyone else stepped up.”

In 2023 it was senior Jackie Lewis who bowled far above her normal score at counties, while this year’s surprise at county proved to be senior Emma Foley.

She came into the match averaging 154.2 pins per game this season but wildly exceeded that by averaging 174.5 in the six games.

She and junior Kate Flynn (who went from a 137.8 average to a 159 at counties) exceeded expectations and helped carry Mineola to the win.

“I was so excited and proud of Emma and Kate because we really needed them,” Palumbo said. “To see them step up a level like that, it just shows that everyone on our team is strong and can bowl great under pressure.”

That certainly includes Palumbo, who averaged 200 per game this season, and Morrison, who was just a tick behind at 196 per game.

Palumbo again led the way at counties, rolling a high of 201 and maintaining her poise throughout.

“She’s gotten a little bit better every year, and she and Kelsey are the backbone of our team,” Miller said.

Palumbo said she’s tried very hard to have a short memory on the lanes, something she’s struggled with in the past.

“It used to be that if I had a bad frame, I’d still be thinking about it and it would bother me and affect me for a little while,” Palumbo said. “I’ve been getting better at that this season, I think.”

Palumbo, Morrison and the other seniors now have one more chance to build on their legacy, at the New York State championships in Syracuse on March 8-10. The Mustangs finished ninth two years ago, and last year finished eighth.

“So this year we want to get at least seventh!” Miller said with a smile. “Just keep improving every year. The teams upstate are tough, really really good, but I think we have a very strong team.”

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