It wasn’t until the morning of Feb. 9, with the Nassau County girls’ bowling individual championships just a few hours away, that Samantha Lipson decided she’d give it a shot.
The previous day, the Hewlett sophomore missed school and hardly left the comfort of her bed as she tried to break a fever that rose to 102. “If I felt the same way Saturday as I did Friday, I probably wouldn’t have bowled,” she said. “What ultimately pushed me was my commitment.”
Lipson, who led the Lady Bulldogs to the Conference 6 title with a team-best 174.8 average over 33 games, not only made her way to Garden City Lanes but overcame illness and the competition. She bowled a high game of 257 on the way to a six-game series of 1,123 to finish first and secure a spot on the Nassau All-Star team.
“I’m proud of myself and excited to be going upstate with an amazing group of girls,” said Lipson, who also rolled games of 171, 186, 133, 169 and 207 for an average of 187.2 on the day.
Hewlett first-year coach Elana Hacken wasn’t surprised by Lipson’s success. “Samantha has laser focus,” she said. “She sees things that nobody else sees. She can see an imperfection in a rack; if a pin is off by a tiny bit.
“Her form is great and she follows through on every shot,” Hacken added. “She doesn’t show a lot of emotion but she loves to bowl and compete.”
Lipson, competing in the county individual championships for a second time, finished 37 pins ahead of Plainview-JFK’s Sari Arrow. Those two, along with Brillian Soedarmasto (Division), Olivia Chan (Syosset), Jennifer Taggart (MacArthur) and Arianna Fracchioni (Clarke) form Nassau’s team for the state championship in Syracuse on March 8-10.
Also joining Lipson for the trip upstate is her older brother, Hewlett senior Zane Lipson, who placed fourth in the boys’ tournament, and senior Dillon Ristano, who finished third. “It’s nice that we’re both going,” Lipson said of Zane. “We’ll see who gets bragging rights.”
In addition to anchoring the Lady Bulldogs’ lineup all season, Lipson basically served as another coach, Hacken noted. “Samantha is not only a skilled bowler but also a role model,” Hacken said. “We had seven rookies on the team and she helped them with strategy, body positioning and bowling etiquette. She’s invaluable in many ways.”
Lipson’s consistency was one of the keys Hewlett prevailed over conference rivals Lawrence, Lynbrook, Long Beach and Valley Stream District. She had a high game of 226 and a high series of 600 during the regular season. The Lady Bulldogs, who call Woodmere Lanes home, compiled a record of 88-44 over 12 matches, as 11 points are up for grabs each match.
Hacken said junior Leel Alkobi (107 average) made the biggest improvement of anyone on the roster, while sophomore Rachel Kshonz (111), junior Karina Edwards (104.8), and freshmen Chloe Zorluoglu (100.6) and Emma Zalcman (100.2) also contributed.