Fredonia wins title for first time in school history
CHEEKTOWAGA — For the first time in school history, the Fredonia Hillbillies captured the Section 6 Class C high school bowling championship on Thursday at Airport Lanes.
The Hillbillies finished with a 5,190 total, 105 pins ahead of nemesis Tonawanda, which had captured the Sectional title over Fredonia the last two years.
“We finally got over the hump,” Fredonia coach Tom Battaglia said with elation.
In 2015, Tonawanda was 500 pins better than Fredonia at Sectionals. Last season, Tonawanda topped Fredonia by just 150 pins. This year, it was Fredonia’s turn to win.
“This was a veteran team,” Battaglia, who is in his 16th year of coaching, said. “Without losing anybody from last year, the kids really bought into this and our bowling system. We want quality shots and pick up the spares. When you can do that, that’s the name of the game.”
Fredonia finished fifth overall as West Seneca West (Class A) took the overall title with a 5,534. Niagara Falls (Class A) took second at 5,410 while Frewsburg (Class D) was third with 5,361. Fourth place went to Class A’s Frontier with a 5,208.
Senior Ricky Burgstrom led the way for the Hillbillies as he had a 138-231-203-572 in the morning and a 171-183-206-560 in the afternoon for a 1,132 total. While happy to be part of history, it was bitter-sweet for Burgstrom as he was one pin shy of qualifying for the state tournament.
“I know it stings,” Battaglia said. “You want states really bad. But I know he is elated with our overall team performance. He was on that team to get the first league championship in 38 years and to win two more years. States would be nice, but he has nothing to be ashamed of. He is a big reason we won.”
Along with Burgstrom, competing in his final match was Cody Decker.
“We had a feeling this would be the year to win Sectionals for them,” Battaglia said. “We were very deep all year long. It finally worked out. It sure feels good.”
Battaglia also noted the strength of the Lucky Lanes Junior Bowling program, headed by Greg Haase, as a key factor to the success Fredonia has seen at the lanes.
“When you have the success of our program and how well the Dunkirk girls have done, it comes back to the kids being dedicated and dedicated junior bowling,” he said. “Greg Haase who runs it, makes my life and (Fredonia girls coach) Roger (Paco’s) life so much easier. They hit the ground running when they get to us. It all comes down to the start they get at Junior Bowling. Roger and I and other coaches, we owe Greg a debt of gratitude. We wouldn’t be here without him.”
Gowanda finished 21st with a 4,829 and Forestville was 23rd at 4,752. Dunkirk was 31st at 4,554 and Brocton was 39th at 4,354.