Barnegat Leader Winter Sports Previews

Barnegat Bowling, Indoor Track Wield Firepower for Winter Season

By DAVID BIGGY | Dec 16, 2019
Photo by: David Biggy LEFTY LEADER: Barnegat senior Matt Charland is one of several returning starters for the boys bowling team this winter.

Barnegat — Last winter, the Barnegat boys bowling team had its strongest season ever. Unfortunately, despite a 31-14 record, the Bengals finished behind perennial Shore Conference Class B South powerhouse Manchester.

This season may be much like last season, even thought Barnegat returned much of its starting varsity crew from last season.

“Our second-place finish in B South was backed by the most wins in school history,” said coach Michael Palmieri. “Needless to say, the 2019-20 Bengals have a very tough act to follow.”

The biggest issue the Bengals must overcome is the lost 219 average of graduate David MacGillivray, who holds every school record and was the driving force behind the team’s success the past few years. Barnegat may not have that hammer anchor bowler this winter, but Palmieri’s crew does have solid experience and the capability to drop 1,000 pins in a game once in a while.

Fortunately for the Bengals, they acquired the services of junior Matt Xiques, who last season averaged 196 on a solid Toms River South squad before moving to Barnegat. His lane prowess, knowledge of the sport and talent will help fill at least most of the void left behind by MacGillivray’s graduation.

And while Xiques may be the anchor guy this season, he joins a solid, senior-heavy squad made up of returning seniors Anthony Balas (163), Matthew Charland (177) and Mike Pulig (141). Sophomore Joey Spagnola rounds out what should be the starting five on most days, and freshman Matthew Hwang is expected to see some varsity action as the season wears on.

Through 12 games on Dec. 9, the Bengals sat in second place, tied with Lacey, with a 9-3 record after knocking off Shore Conference South B division rival Donovan Catholic, 3-0. Spagnola led the way with scores of 248, 242 and 206 for an impressive 696 series, which became the high series in the league thus far, while Xiques recorded a 526 series following scores of 221 and 158 during the first and third games. Balas delivered scores of 171, 185 and 168 for a 524 series, while Pulig recorded a 179 and 203 during the last two games to finish with a 510 series, and Charland fired games of 147, 167 and 163 for a 477 series.

As for coach Jon Gordon’s girls squad, the loss of former standout Precious Anderson to graduation is going to hurt the Bengals, especially as they try to eclipse last season’s 29-win mark and challenge for the runner-up spot in the division behind Manchester. Coming into the season, Lacey seemed to be a viable contender as well, so the Bengals likely will battle with the Lions for that second position.

Nonetheless, Barnegat is in good shape with leadership. Seniors Lily Spagnola and Jasmine Reid return to the starting lineup for a final season and they should be at the top of their game most weeks.

“Lily and Jasmine are going to lead the way for us to make a run at the B South title and again qualify for the Shore Conference team tournament,” Gordon said. “One of our other goals is to get at least two bowlers to qualify for the Shore Conference individual tournament. Lily’s in the anchor position this season, and I’m expecting good things out of all the girls. We have a few young bowlers who need to step up, try to stay consistent, and help put us in a position to win games on most days. Overall, we’re a good team.”

In front of Reid and Spagnola will be sophomore Madison Kubicz, who had a solid season as a freshman, while sophomore Kelsea Jecas and freshman Camryn White are expected to be the main duo in the other two starting positions for most matches this winter. The rest of the team is comprised of junior Rebecca Bykow, sophomore Alexis Sugden and freshman Summer Burkle.

“We have some good young bowlers who I believe can help us this season,” Gordon said. “They’re working hard and they’re eager to learn. That’s going to be important later on.”

Thus far, through 12 games, the Bengals were 8-4 and in third place, a victory behind Lacey, after defeating Donovan Catholic, 3-0. Spagnola led the way with a 489 series, as she tossed games of 135, 207 and 147, while Reid ended the day with scores of 129, 133 and 164 to finish with a 426 series. Kubicz finished with a 390 series after she tossed a 130 and a 136 during the last two games. Jecas delivered games of 130 and 134 during the final two to finish with a 378 series, and White ended with a 339 series.

Indoor Track Teams Solid This Winter

In the spring, the Barnegat girls track and field team had an outstanding season, as many of its athletes were still competing late into the season at the state meets. As the Bengals prepare for this spring, they have some of the big guns making the move to the indoor track and that will vastly improve the team’s composition from previous winters.

One of those big guns is sophomore Madison Cappuccio, who in the spring won the NJSIAA Group II title in the high jump. Cappuccio not only will be the team’s premier high jumper this winter, but also will be helpful to several relays.

Another one of the big guns joining the squad this winter is sophomore Valencia Gosser, who developed as one of the fastest 100- and 200-meter sprinters in the Shore Conference.

“We’re excited about using this season to build strength and a solid work ethic as we prepare all our athletes for the spring,” said coach Joe Doviak. “Many of our athletes are eager to start competing on the track. Additionally, we have an extremely talented group of athletes we expect will qualify deep into the season. Many of these athletes were part of a very successful season that produced a team division championship and several state sectional and group qualifiers or champions last spring.”

Among those returning to the lineup this winter are seniors Kayla Carter (sprints), Quamora Proctor (throws), Madeline Schleicher (sprints/middle distance) and Isabella Concepcion-Sagarate (sprints/middle distance); juniors Jillian Jankowski – one of the team’s better sprinters and jumpers – and Kyzmerah Joshua (sprints/jumps); and sophomore Lillian Sarno, who is returning from an injury during the cross-country season and should be among the better distance runners in the county.

Several newcomers to the program who are expected to fare well this winter are sophomores Robbiann Erskine (throws) and Bianca Savoy (distance), along with freshmen sprinters Mya Gomez and Caitlin Tai.

As for the boys, their strengths are in the sprints and hurdles. They will be led by seniors Ralph Cruz, Ryan Fisher, Justin Gomez, Lukas Torres, Sebastian Nicolay and Jesse Omelczuk. Senior distance runner Gino DiGiovanni also is back in action, as is junior distance runner Peter Dizon, who had a solid spring season.

“Ralph, Ryan and Justin are poised to have big seasons,” Doviak said. “After battling injuries on and off last spring, their potential should put them among the best sprinters in Ocean County, and as the core of our sprint relay teams, which have consistently been among the best in the Shore and state in past years.

Senior Jacob Schleicher (sprints/distance); juniors Nicholas Danbrowney (throws), Donovan Fraim (sprints) and Nicholas Guarino (sprints); and freshmen Matthew Cheney (sprints), Sean Haggarty (distance) and Jesse Hedlund (sprints) are newcomers expected to contribute significantly this winter.

— David Biggy

biggy@thesandpaper.net

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