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    Prep league turnout bowls over center


    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 22, 2000

    During the summer, parents, coaches and student bowlers encouraged youngsters to join the Pinellas County High School League.

    Students spread the word at their schools. And parents, such as Clearwater's Bob Gates and Palm Harbor's Pat Scanlon, urged school officials to produce teams in the 28-year-old league.

    So it was a huge surprise when the league opened play last week at Seminole Lanes and 14 girls teams and 27 boys squads crowded the center.

    "We never know until they show up how many teams and kids we're going to have, so we were taken aback by so many," said league coordinator Matt Stevenson. In fact, the 60-lane Seminole facility is the only center on the schedule that can handle the entire league.

    On Thursday, the boys were at AMF Kenneth City Lanes. The girls traveled to South Pasadena's Ten Pin Lanes.

    The 14 girls teams represent 11 Pinellas County schools. The 27 boys squads, bowling with a blind team to round out the division, hail from 15 schools.

    Last season, 13 girls and 20 boys clubs competed.

    New to the league are boys and girls squads from East Lake and Countryside high schools. There are about 60 girls and 80 boys participating.

    Absent are the Boca Ciega girls, defending league scratch and handicap champions, so a new champ will be crowned at the end of the 13-week season in November.

    Dixie Hollins is the defending boys champion in both divisions, but lost its top bowlers -- Brian Halstrom and Tony Russo -- to graduation.

    The Gibbs boys won the Open Division state title last December, and four of their top five players return.

    Two years ago, teams from Dixie Hollins, Seminole and Largo won six of the eight state championships.

    Earlier this year, to prepare its players and coaches and encourage prep officials to consider fielding teams, students inaugurated an upper-county scratch league that traveled around upper Pinellas centers.

    Teams from Largo, Palm Harbor University, Tarpon Springs and Clearwater had off-season competition with an eye toward joining the older league.

    In the early 1970s, the league reached from Tarpon Springs High School to Lakewood, but travel demands on Highway 19 made it difficult to continue such a demanding schedule.

    The Northeast No. 1 girls and the East Lake No. 1 and Seminole No. 2 boys squads opened the season with 20-1 records.

    Northeast defeated Gibbs No. 2 and East Lake stopped Largo No. 2 in the scratch competition, and Seminole zapped Clearwater No. 1 in the handicap go-round.

    The East Lake girls gave up only two points in topping St. Petersburg No. 1 in handicap.

    Girls individual scratch high scorers included a 259 game by Tanya Veitch of Northeast No. 1 and a 541 series by Teresa Scanlon of Palm Harbor.

    Northeast No. 1 fired the high scratch game-series of 683-1,918. Boys scratch scores included Largo No. 1 Jeff Bennett's 258 game and a 686 series by Gibbs' Matt Mayhugh.

    Brian Bennett, Largo No. 1, Justin Veitch, Northeast No. 1, and Ryan Brembs, Dixie Hollins No. 1, rolled 256 games.

    Pinellas Park No. 1 fired the high scratch team game of 829. Dixie Hollins No. 1 rolled the high scratch team series of 2,334.

    MEREDITH ROLLS 759: Scott Meredith recorded a 290-759 to keep his Team 1 (26-2) in first place in the Countryside Lanes Elite Division.

    Meredith's efforts resulted in a high scratch team game-series of 958-2,547 and kept Team 1 well ahead of Team 6 (19-9).

    Other high scorers were Josh Guinand of Team 7 with a 279-682 and Kelly Fecke of Team 2 with a 547 game.

    Three squads have jumped into the lead of the Olympians Division with 20-8 marks, including Team 2, Who Cares? and the Tigers.

    Michael Mastantuo of Team 13 shot a 213-504, and David Lindberg of Team 2 fired a 512 series. Nichole Honey, Team 7, rolled a 169-435.

    The Stormers lead the Junior Olympians with a 23-5 mark. The Alley Gators are right behind.

    Zack Munson of the Alley Gators fired a 161-405; Stephanie Scanlon, Team 12, rolled a 169 game; and Ashley Galante, Team 13, fired a 322 series.

    Team 16 is the B.C. Junior Gold leader at 35-5, and the Fireballs continued to head the Young Olympians Division with an 18-10 mark. Ben Zold's 278 game and Cliff Barnes' 695 series were among the top scorers last week.

    - Phil Gulick can be reached at or

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