With the high school bowling regular season coming down to the wire, the Exeter Township High School boys’ bowling team is having another good season.
Led by head coach Lou Ellis, the team is closing in on a 30-win season (26-7 in the Berks League, 29-7 overall) with the help of seniors Colin Flohr and Ricky Wike, along with junior Brian Weiss.
“I knew coming into this season that we had a very good bowling team,” Ellis said. “We have a lot of returning players, the core of the team coming back from last season with some additions that have a lot of talent. I figured we had a chance to win our division (Division 1 in the Berks Scholastic Bowling League), and it looks like we have a chance to do that with our next match within our league itself. That match will be against Daniel Boone (on Feb. 8). If we can win that match, we’ll have a good chance of winning Division 1.
“It sets it up really well for the playoffs, where you get a bye, and then you get to see who you’re going to play in the second round. If you can bowl well in that match, you have a chance to get to the finals. We’ve won the county championship the last two years, and we’re hoping for a third.”
Seniors Wike and Flohr agree that the season has gone how they expected it to go.
“We’ve had our ups and downs like a normal year would,” Wike said. “This season is looking really different from the past two years. At that point, we were seeded third and had to work our way up to win the county title. As our coach keeps emphasizing though, you really can’t look ahead, you have to take it one match at a time.”
“The past two years we’ve been underdogs heading into the playoffs,” junior Weiss added. “This season, we’re the team that everyone is looking to beat. We have very high expectations for ourselves.”
One of the major team goals was to get back into the playoffs to try and defend their county title. The other goal was to make it to the regional tournament which includes the top six teams in average based on their performance during the season.
“I know one of the goals we’ve wanted to achieve the past two years but couldn’t quite make it was bowling our way through regionals and making it to states,” Wike said.
“This year’s team has exceeded last year’s squad by a good bit,” Weiss said. “The last two seasons, we’ve struggled with members (having enough players on the team), but this season we have a much deeper roster, so we can always have a player step forward if another might be struggling.”
Flohr added that the team has been able to mesh much better this year.
“We’ve done much better with picking someone up when they’ve been down,” he said. “Some of our players haven’t met their expectations from last season, but others have stepped up to fill in when needed.”
Exeter’s season thus far hasn’t been composed of all cupcake opponents. Flohr said that matches both home and away against Governor Mifflin were challenging.
“They definitely made us fight for it,” he said. “It was pretty even the whole way. We split the season series 3-3, and I would say it was a tough bunch of games for us. They’re a very talented team.”
Wike added that a home match against Wilson was another tough test.
“They came out guns blazing,” he said. “They took the first game from us, then we managed to work our way back and take back the last two games, but we barely made it out of the last game by about three or four pins.”
According to the players, those matches have built up the team’s camaraderie and chemistry.
“They taught us no matter what happens, if we get an open frame, there are four other guys that can pick you right up, and we can still bowl out some of our highest games,” Flohr said. “It also showed that when we have a lot of energy during a game, that’s when we bowl the best. We’ve learned that throughout the past couple of seasons.”
Despite a 2-1 setback to Conrad Weiser on Feb. 4 to fall behind Wilson for first place in the division, there are many big moments ahead for the Eagles.
The ultimate goal for the squad this year is to defend the county title, and make the state tournament for the first time. Whatever may happen to the team coming down the wire, they’ll most assuredly make it a fun experience for this season and moving forward.
“We try to stay loud and energetic,” Flohr said. “Between our turns to bowl, we keep a calm and relaxed atmosphere, and we try to keep focused on the job at hand.”
“Keeping the team together has been a lot of fun as a captain this season,” Wike added. “It’s always a good thing to know that if you miss a spare or leave a bad break and leave a split that you have the four other guys to pick you up. We really do have a lot of younger talent that’ll really help the team for next year.”