East Meadow has knocked on the door of a Nassau County Class AA boys’ bowling title several times in recent years, racking up finishes of fourth place or better in each of the last five seasons.
On Feb. 1, at Garden City Bowl, however, the Jets left little doubt which team was No. 1, demolishing the field to win the program’s first championship since 2006. Seeded No. 1 entering the one-day tournament, East Meadow lived up to its advanced billing, outdistancing second place Hicksville by 336 pins (6,463-6,127) over the six games behind a well-rounded team effort that included five bowlers averaging better than 200. The Jets now move on to New York State Public High School Athletic Association Championships on Mar. 1-2, at Babylon Bowl.
“When we lost [this season] we lost as a team and when we won, we won as a team,” Jets coach Andrew Ghirardi said. “There was no individual on this team, and it was great to see. They were so team-oriented.”
While senior Jeff Juarez, a six-year varsity bowler and three-time All-State honoree, led the team in average during the season (234.2) and rolled the highest game of the County Championships — a 290 in the second game — it was the tandem of senior Mike Siska and his brother, Dave, a sophomore, that helped push the Jets to the title. Dave led the way in a dominant first game, rolling a 267, and Mike wasn’t far behind at 258, as East Meadow opened up an early 135-pin lead on the field. Mike’s 1,350 six-game total was the second highest in the tournament, and Dave finished up at 1,336 total pins. “It was a team effort, but [the Siska’s] stole the show,” Ghirardi said of the two, who each bowled more than 12 pins higher than their regular-season average during the championships.
The overall lead grew even larger when the Jets totaled 1,152 pins in the second match behind Juarez’s 290 and a 243 from senior Stephen Villani. The only speed bump for the group came in the third game, when it hit 1,000 pins on the nose and only Juarez (212) topped 210. But despite the falloff from the start, Ghirardi was plenty pleased with how East Meadow kept making marks and avoiding open frames. “That could have been our kryptonite in the third game but they pulled it together,” he said, adding that there was no carryover effect in the intermission that followed.
In fact, the Jets came out of the break and increased the lead back over 200 pins with Mike Siska (265), Dave Siska (237), Villani (230) and sophomore Tom Burke (226) all eclipsing the 225-mark. Senior Joey Franzese, one of two alternates (senior Mike Pepe was the other), got his opportunity to bowl in the sixth and final game and rolled a 194. “It’s been a season to remember that’s for sure,” Ghirardi said. “They bowled great and deserve everything.”