Young Jamestown Bowlers Find Fast Lane To Success

Members of the Jamestown boys bowling team, in front, from left, are: Zach Ryberg, Colton Cappalino, Brandon Michael, Riley Piazza and manager Kenny Miller. In back are: head coach Peggy Harris, assistant coach James Cappalino, William Ploetz, Kyle Christensen, Austin Aldrich and assistant coach Brandon Miller. Submitted photo

Zach Ryberg admitted to having a “good day, all day” at Persell Middle School last Wednesday. An eighth-grader, Ryberg’s good fortune only continued once he arrived at Jamestown Bowling Company later that afternoon.

A member of the Jamestown High School bowling team, Ryberg needed just four practice throws — he fired three for strikes — during his warmup for the Red Raiders’ Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Athletic Association match for confirmation of that.

“Then, in my first game, I just kept telling myself to follow through, keep my speed up and I just kept hitting the pocket,” Ryberg recalled.

Ryberg finished with a 258-201-267-726 to lead the Red Raiders to a 4-0 victory over Fredonia. Not only did Jamestown earn a sweep, but it also compiled the highest team total (3,297) that Coach Peggy Harris can remember during her 10 years at the helm.

“I knew, and I tell them all the time, that they have the capability of that,” Harris said. “A lot of them sometimes lack the self-confidence, so when they put their mind to it and try and not to be nervous and overwhelmed by it and just go out and do their thing, that’s what they can do.”

Ryberg had company.

Four other Red Raiders surpassed the 600 mark against the Hillbillies — freshman Riley Piazza (238-651), junior Austin Aldrich (258-224-650), freshman Kyle Christensen (234-233-648) and senior William Ploetz (245-622) — which helped the squad improve to 24-4 on the season.

Of their seven matches, five of them have resulted in totals exceeding 3,000 pinfall.

“I always tell them that they have the capability,” Harris said. “You have to get them to know not to get discouraged when they’re not doing well. That frame is over, concentrate on the next frame. … If you get mad, you won’t do any better.”

The teenagers have appeared to get the message.

Aldrich leads the team with a 215.6 average, followed by Ryberg (209.9), Piazza (206.4), Christensen (203.5), Ploetz (195.7), freshman Brandon Michael (182.1) and eighth-grader Colton Cappalino (170.9).

“I have a very strong upcoming team,” said Harris, who grew up bowling at Ten Pin Lanes, owned by her late grandfather, Bucky Cappalino. “A lot of them started early.”

Noted Ryberg: “Most of us started at a pretty young age and have been bowling for a long time. Most of us know each other really well. We just have a natural drive for the sport. We love it and we just have a natural talent for it, and we show it on the lanes.”

Christensen said the goals for the team are simple.

“We want to still keep improving, get all of our averages over 200 and get to sectionals,” he said.

So far, so good.