By GREG Gulas
When Jeff Buzard, Ursuline High School boys and girls’ bowling coach moved back to the area from California, he was changing careers for a third time from paramedic to stockbroker to teacher.
The 1983 Woodrow Wilson graduate was also hoping to land a coaching position as he wished to share his bowling knowledge with a group that also had a passion for the sport.
Hired two years ago by the Fighting Irish, he also wanted the three Catholic schools in the Youngstown Diocese to take part in a friendly competition prior to sectional play.
His dream came true Thursday at Mahoning Valley Lanes as the three teams met in a tri-match with the Fighting Irish boys and Cardinal Mooney girls winning the inaugural Diocesan Cup.
“My wish was to see all three Catholic schools align for a friendly competition, all with the hopes of getting in some much-needed practice and game experience in order to get ready for sectional play,” Buzard said. “We’re all of the Catholic faith, say a prayer together prior to the match and all of the coaches bought into this idea.”
The Fighting Irish rolled 2,123 to capture the boys competition while the Cardinals rolled a 1,916 to secure rights to the girls rotating trophy.
Ursuline’s Alex Schlosser rolled a 217 to pace all boys while Cardinal Mooney’s Clara Angeloff was the top female bowler with a 208.
“The trophy is something nice to take back to the school, however, we must now defend our championship next year if we expect to keep it in our trophy case,” Schlosser said. “I was hoping to have a home match with both Cardinal Mooney and Warren JFK and it came at just the right time with sectionals set to start this Sunday. We had no stragglers and everyone scored well today; we played like a team, especially in Baker’s because we only had a 36-pin lead at that point. Baker play makes or breaks a team.”
Angeloff, whose 169 was also second-best, said the lanes were a challenge.
“The lane pattern was a regular house shot. I got a little scared because it looked like a sport shot,” she said. “My partner is Christian Dama and she always bowls next to me. We support each other and it just helps our overall game.”
First-year Cardinals coach Dave Bernard, whose girls entered play with a 7-1 record, called the concept between the three schools a great idea.
“It’s a good thing any time we can start a new tradition within the Diocese. It’s all about the kids; keeping them interested and competitive,” Bernard said. “When you do it before sectionals it gives a team more practice and in this case, added play on the lanes where this year’s tournament will be held.”
JFK boys coach Heath Myers said his young team appreciated the opportunity to compete.
“Four of our top seven players are first-time bowlers and we have improved over the course of the season,” he said. “While snow days have hurt every team in the Mahoning Valley, the fact that we were able to get in this extra competition prior to sectionals was an added bonus.”
Myers’ girls counterpart, Laura Kolovich, is in her sixth season as the Eagles head coach.
“A competition like this brings attention to the fact that we offer bowling at our respective schools. It’s a lifetime sport and something the players can do for the rest of their lives,” she said. “When Jeff brought up the idea everyone jumped at the opportunity of an extra match in order to prepare for tournament play.”
In boys action, Cardinal Mooney placed second at 2,029 while Warren JFK was third at 1,384.
Ursuline’s girls were runners-up with 1,585 while the Eagles finished at 1,107.