Lansing bowling has had a great postseason with a second-place finish out of 11 teams at the IAC Championships. Following that, the team’s standout bowler, senior Ethan Calupca, placed second at the Class C level at the Section IV Championships with a series score of 661.
Coach Lee Christopher is beyond happy with the results given some of the struggles Lansing had to overcome during the season.
“Going into the season, I thought we’d do really well,” Christopher said. “Unfortunately, during the season, we’ve had a lot of sickness going around. A couple of boys got injured, and that brought us down a little bit. But just at the right time, everyone was sparking, and they’re connecting really well right now.”
Calupca is certainly one of those bowlers finding their rhythm at the right time. The senior bowled an excellent 698 series at the IAC Championships, finishing second only to Dryden’s Eddy Pietrasz.
“Ethan’s been great,” Christopher said. “We bowled at Helen Newman [Lanes], and they’re kind of tough lanes for kids to bowl on. In the middle of the year, he slipped there. He held his average, but since February started, he kicked it into gear. In our midseason tournament back at the end of January, he threw a 259 game for a 675 series. He won a couple of medals and was the top bowler there.”
Coach Christopher made sure to have his team in the right mindset heading into the IAC Championships. He went back in time to do so.
“Before we went to the IACs, we were on the bus and on my phone, I showed the boys what we did in the past at the sectionals,” Christopher said. “In 2015, we won and bowled a 2,900 series. In 2017, we won and that was just under 2,700. So I told them, ‘If you hit a 2,800 or 2,900, you should be able to win.’ They looked at it and said, ‘We can do it.’ And I said, ‘Of course you can.’ It paid off.”
The team went on to tally a series score of 2,872 that day, finishing second only to Waverly’s 2,942 score. While it wasn’t a first-place finish, it was exactly what Christopher wanted to see from his team.
“I knew this team could do it,” Christopher said. “Waverly is a tough team. There’s no doubt about it. They have some really high bowlers. I have to admit too, there are some other tough schools like Newark Valley and Groton. They have really strong bowlers, but we should be right up there with them. It’s kind of like a four-team league.”
Dryden High’s bowling team actually finished fourth at the IAC Championships, though, in only its first year of existence. Prior to Dryden establishing a team, Christopher had connections with a few of their bowlers. He does hope that Dryden’s first year success leads to other schools forming teams.
“It was nice to see [Dryden] because for 29 years I used to coach Saturday morning youth bowling and a couple kids on that team were kids I actually coached,” Christopher said. “It was nice to see those kids there. It’s nice for now, I just wish that one more team would come in. It would be great to see a Spencer or Southern Cayuga team come in with closer lanes and it would even out the schedule better. [It would be] great for the sport.”
Christopher recalled the experience of watching his team pull away at the IAC Championships. It was one of the easier coaching experiences he’s had.
“We were sitting in fifth place, and I went to check on the girls,” he said. “They were on lanes 28 and 29 and the boys were on 9 and 10, so I had to walk away to see the girls. Then when I came back, they were in the fourth frame of the last game, and when I looked up, there were only two opens. The rest were strikes and spares.”
At that moment, Christopher knew the Bobcats were doing something special.
“Some of them had scores of 70 in the fourth frame, so I knew something was up,” he said. “So, I didn’t go down there, I just stayed in the stands and watched them because I didn’t want to end their mojo. They did really well. I was really impressed.”
With a second-place finish at the IAC Championships and Calupca’s success at the Section IV Championships in the rear-view mirror, Christopher is looking ahead to next year.
“I’ll lose Ethan Calupca because he’s a senior,” Christopher said. “But I’ll have Michael Day who’s an eighth-grader, he’ll come up and right now he’s a 140 average bowler. So, next year will be pretty good. I’ll lose a high-200-average bowler, but Parker Ouelette, he should be able to step up. He’s in the 170s right now and he should be able to step up.”
Losing a bowler like Calupca will be tough, but several bowlers have shown the potential to continue the Bobcats’ success next season. Regardless of what happens next season, this one was one to remember for Lansing.
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