Weir High bowling squad to compete for a national title
WEIRTON — In its inaugural season, the Weir High School bowling team was looking to make a statement.
With a trip to Dayton next month, the Red Riders hope to cap off an undefeated year by bringing home a national championship.
After delays in youth and high school athletics as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has returned to the lanes in recent weeks, according to varsity coach Charlie Whiteman, in preparation for a trip to the U.S. High School Bowling National Championship, scheduled for July 25-27 in Dayton, Ohio.
“The kids are practicing three days a week,” Whiteman explained. “We’re just trying to get back to where we were.”
Part of those efforts included a special practice session held June 20 with Jeri Edwards, former head coach of Team USA, and a PWBA and USBC hall of famer.
Reflecting on their season, which included a 20-0 record and an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship under the direction of head coach Dave Thompson, Whiteman said the skills displayed by the Weir High bowlers took many by surprise.
“No one thought we were for real,” Whiteman said. “These kids are better than people thought.”
In addition to the undefeated season and OVAC crown, Weir High’s Thomas Babinchak and Wayne Zapotoczny took the top two spots in the boys individual competitions, and Whiteman said the team features three of the top five averages in the region.
“This is a special year. This is a talented group,” Whiteman said.
The national championship is a three-day competition, certified by the United States Bowling Congress and hosted by the U.S. High School Bowling Foundation, with singles and team events in boys and girls divisions. Each division winner will receive a championship ring to mark their win.
The Weir High team will compete in three of the four divisions — boys and girls singles, and boys team.
To be eligible, bowlers or teams must have either qualified during their most recent state championship, state finals or the equivalent; set a state or national record during the current season; or gain a wild card entry.
Whiteman sees the championship as another challenge for the team, and one he is confident they can overcome.
“We can win. We really can. We have a legit shot,” he said.