(Pictured L-R) Coach Matt Gerner, Mgr. Conner McLaughlin, Team members: Mike Frank, Daniel Wang, Timeir Hagins, Joe Grasso, Danny Celins, Hugh Owen V & Joe McNally
BY JOSH ABRAMS
(Photos by Josh Cotterell)
BRISTOL, PA – Saturday morning’s showdown between the boys bowling squads of Archbishop Ryan and Conwell-Egan provided an entertaining start to the day of those in attendance.
In remarkable comeback fashion the Ryan boys rallied in the third match to take down Egan by a score of 2917 to 2850. The first two contests had Egan written all over them, as the local Eagles led by 117 pins heading into the third and final clash with a 1998 to 1881 showing.
An Archbishop Ryan explosion, a 1036 to 852 margin to end the day, turned the match for the better for the red and black. And it was their lone seniors who anchored the five-man lineup, Joe Grasso and Daniel Wang, who saved their best performances for last.
“We knew we could beat (Egan),” said the Second-Team All-Catholic bowler Grasso. “We just had to hit our spares, and (early on) they were getting strike runs that we weren’t getting. But as long as we hit our spares and work on our strike runs, we have them.”
Those referred strike runs were an indication of just how much talent was on display at Bowlero Lanes on Saturday.
Both teams boasted two of their own First-Team All-Catholic bowlers throughout the game. Egan’s Matt Coppola and Brian Baill provided the Eagles with monstrous performances in the first and second game, respectively. Coppola bowled the best individual game of the day, starting things off with a 278. Baill followed with the second best showing, a 265 which was the only 200-point game from any Eagle bowler in the second match. Coppola finished with a 612 total while Baill finished at 643.
After being down by a considerable margin approaching the third match, Ryan head coach Matt Gerner used a different sport from bowling to help share some perspective with his team.
Archbishop Ryan Senior Daniel Wang. (Photo/ Josh Cotterell for PSD)
Archbishop Ryan Senior Joe Grasso. (Photo/ Josh Cotterell for PSD)
“I literally told the guys, ‘Bowling is a game like basketball,’” said Gerner. “It’s (a lot of) ups and downs. You just gotta weather the storm and come out and play like I know you’ve played all year. And I told them I’m proud of them no matter what happens.”
Joseph McNally, one of Ryan’s First-Team All-Catholic bowlers, showed off the model of consistency as he put up at least a 215 in all three contests and ended with a 680 total on the day, the highest of all 10 bowlers. Wang, who is known for his loud and upbeat personality in the lanes, finished second right behind his lead-off teammate with a 672 total. Grasso put up a 245 in the final frame to help him finish fourth on the day with a 629 total.
With Wang and Grasso departing after this season, the future remains bright for an Archbishop Ryan team that is expecting to reload and be back in this position again next year. They’ll return McNally who will almost certainly be their leader and captain, while key contributors Michael Frank and Timeir Hagins will look to build off their success as underclassmen.
Even though they didn’t see much game time on Saturday, Hugh Owens V and Danny Celins held their end of the bargain as teammates, consistently cheering on the squad whenever a positive sequence occurred and never losing faith in the ability to comeback.
It is quite the 180-degree turn after multiple seasons of struggle and adversity following the covid year.
Said Grasso, despite the team not being very good over the last couple of seasons: “We brought it back and practiced a lot over the summer. It’s pretty great.”
Having most of the team return for next year certainly brings a comforting feeling to Gerner and the rest of the Archbishop Ryan faithful. And there is not a doubt that winning the PCL championship is what the teams play for. But next year Gerner wants more.
“I just want to keep on getting better and better,” said Gerner. “We’re losing two seniors, but the rest of the team is coming back. Next year, our goal is states, we want to go to states next year. We missed that this year by about five games, so that’s our goal for now.”
Second-Team All-Catholic bowlers TJ Dunn, Matt Kleinfelder and Luke Phinn rounded out the squad for Conwell-Egan, who ended its season record 15-2-1.
Archbishop Ryan closed out their campaign with the PCL title and a 13-4-1 record.
Contact Josh Abrams on Twitter (@jabrams1998).
2023 Philadelphia Catholic League Boys' Bowling All-Catholic Team
Matt DiCicco, Father Judge
Daniel Wang, Archbishop Ryan
Matt Coppola, Conwell-Egan
Joseph McNally, Archbishop Ryan
Giorgio Cipolloni, Devon Prep
Brian Baill, Conwell-Egan
Nick Wolf, Father Judge
Sean Elitz, Father Judge
Matt McDonnell, La Salle College
Tyler Schiele, Archbishop Carroll
Jacob Carlson, La Salle College
Gabe Mooney, Bonner & Prendie
Grahm Biesecker, La Salle College
Britton Biesecker, La Salle College
Joseph Grasso, Archbishop Ryan
T.J. Dunn, Conwell-Egan
Dan Dailey, Roman
Max Menna, St. Joseph's Prep
Rob Bergman, Bonner & Prendie
Gavin Ola, Devon Prep
Michael Sabatino, Archbishop Wood