The Five Towns are well-represented on the Nassau County boys’ team that will compete for the high school bowling state championships in Syracuse from March 8 to 10.
Lawrence High School senior John Loughlin Jr. will join Hewlett High senior bowlers Zane Lipson and Dillon Ristano on the six-person squad. The other bowlers on the team are Willie Bedoya from Clarke High School, Phil Macchietto from Mineola High and Ben Lewkowitz from Massapequa High. They each qualified for the team by finishing in the top six in the county for overall seasonal averages.
It wasn’t always a given that Loughlin Jr. and Lipson were going to qualify for states this season. They both found themselves out of the top six going into the county championships. “I was eighth and John (Loughlin Jr.) was ninth going into counties,” Lipson said. “I shot about 250 at counties which put me in the top six. I couldn’t believe I made it.”
For Loughlin Jr., it was a nail-biting finish for him to get into the top six. “I made it by just two pins,” Loughlin Jr. said. “One of the kids who was in the top six at the time had to get three strikes in the final frame but he winded up getting only two strikes.”
This isn’t Lipson and Ristano’s first time at the state championships, they both went when Hewlett High School qualified as a team two years ago. Lipson also went upstate as an eighth-grader.
This is Loughlin Jr’s. first appearance at the state competition. All three bowlers have known each for a few years. “I remember playing against John (Loughlin Jr.) in his first varsity game in eighth grade,” Lipson, said, who also joined his school’s varsity team in eighth grade recalled. “The first shot he took, he stepped over the foul line.” Loughlin Jr. recalled another rough moment from that match. “Shortly after stepping over the foul, I put a shot right in the gutter,” Loughlin Jr. said while laughing.
Lipson and Ristano were good enough to participate on Nassau’s state team, but they were disappointed with how their school team finished second at the county championships in February behind Bellmore-Merrick. “In Hewlett, the bowling season doesn’t start until the county championships start,” Ristano said. “Every year, the goal for us is to be the best team in Nassau County.”
For Loughlin Jr. and the Lawrence bowling team, their fifth-place result at counties was the exact opposite of disappointing. “Our fifth-place finish wasn’t expected to happen for us,” Loughlin Jr. said. “It was a nice surprise.”
With high school graduation on the horizon for all three, decision time for college is approaching. So far, Lipson is waiting on a decision from Wichita State where he will bowl. Loughlin Jr. is set to attend Western Illinois and he mentioned the possibility of bowling for the club team. Ristano is going in another direction from bowling as he’s set to play Division II baseball as a catcher at Post University in Connecticut.
As the state championships will be the final high school bowling event for all three, Lipson just wants it to end on a high note. “I want to finish off this once in a lifetime experience strong,” he said.