Two years ago the Sayreville High School boys bowling team graduated four critical members of a squad that raised the Greater Middlesex County tournament trophy. They returned last year as underdogs – a team that was not supposed to amount to much – in search of a leader. The team found unexpected success when A.J. Angotti had a blistering start to the season. Sayreville established wealth behind a bowler that showed he could go toe-to-toe with some of the best bowlers in New Jersey.
“If you ask me, there’s not really a guy who comes to mind I would choose over AJ,” head coach Mike Weinert said. “He gives us a different sense of confidence. If AJ is on, we are really hard to beat.”
Angotta stayed on for the majority of the season, which allowed Sayreville to prove the doubters wrong, and make a return to the GMC finals. Once the Weinert’s group made the championship, they did not dissatisfy. The Bombers beat Woodbridge High School to claim their second straight GMC title.
Their magical run to the finals saw a strong competitor during the Semifinals. Sayreville squared off against Edison High School, a team that is typically a tough opposition. Sayreville went on to defeat Edison, which led to their triumph in the finals.
“We didn’t expect to win,” Weinert said. “Our goal at the beginning of the year was to make it to the final four. Our main guy AJ was on fire and he carried us, which allowed us to win. We didn’t celebrate too hard over it because we had states the next week.”
Coach Weinert has a bigger picture painted in his mind. He does not want to settle for the GMC title anymore, he wants to capture the Group III crown and make it to the Tournament of Champions.
Teams like Brick Memorial, Immaculata, Ewing and Montville are carved in his head. Why that group of teams? The handful of schools that were previously mentioned are the four squads to make the Tournament of Champions last year, which is Sayreville’s number one goal this season.
Montville are the reigning Group III champions. They scored an overall score of 3,250 to win group play, while Sayreville followed closely behind with a 3,025 tally to finish in third place.
Behind Angotti anything is possible, but one bowler cannot lead a team to the promise land. That is where Sayreville’s depth comes into play. The Bombers will return all six starters this season, which will add the much needed experience Sayreville was missing last season. But, the starters are not the most exciting piece to this team heading into the new campaign. According to coach Weinert, Chris DeOcampo made tremendous improvements during the summer, and will find a place in the starting lineup.
The experience will play a vital role in the team’s success. Junior Chris Hauber returns after finishing fifth in the GMC tournament the previous season. Another junior coach Weinert is excited about is Lucas
Leandro. The main counterpart to Angotti on the team is his fellow senior Andy Danchisko, who average around 200-pins a match, which was good for second on the team.
After coming in second in the White Division last season, Sayreville will make a switch over to the Red Division. This means the Bombers better be ready to battle because they will be facing stronger competition. This also means Sayreville will square off against South Brunswick, who are fresh off wins in the Central Jersey, Group 4 tournament and the Red Division. They will be led by junior Alex Sorge, who had a 207.79 pin average last season.
“I don’t watch the competition,” Weinert said. “I don’t worry who the other schools have. Every team has a couple of kids. I’m willing to put my top six against any other team’s top six. I don’t know too many high school teams who have that kind of depth.”
The 2013-2014 squad proved to never doubt a perennial force like Sayreville has. The GMC title is not enough for coach Weinert and his group of bowlers, they want so much more this season. The Bombers have their eyes fixed on winning the Group III tournament and making it to the Tournament of Champions.
“It’s about experience,” Coach Weinert said. “Two years ago we won state title and we graduated four seniors on that team. Last year we had four new guys who had to step into their spots and they obtained our goals. They worked so hard this offseason and every one of them came back throwing it better than they ever have.”
Staff writer Steven Macri: firstname.lastname@example.org