Scott Crement has been a bowler for more than five years.
The Souhegan High School senior used to play other sports – football, baseball, basketball – but a knee injury sent him to the sidelines. Since then, he’s participated in youth bowling leagues, working on his skills in a sport he knows he’ll be able to play for life.
When he heard that the New Hampshire Interscholastic Athletic Association was going to add bowling as a sanctioned sport for his final year of high school, Crement had one reaction.
“I was so pumped,” Crement said. “I was ready to go and I was so happy that my school is involved and I’m so happy that they’ve done it. I’ve done this for about five or six years now. It’s a lifetime sport. All these kids here will probably keep bowling for the rest of their lives. I think it’s awesome that they made this league.”
There are a lot of bowlers from Souhegan. At the team’s final home match of the season – Feb. 6 meet at Merrimack 10-Pin – the Sabers had enough bowlers not only for the varsity competition, but to have a full junior varsity match against each other.
Seniors form the majority on Souhegan’s roster this year, but the loss of bowlers to graduation doesn’t have Crement worried about the team’s attempt at future success.
“We’ve got a lot of seniors, but I think they’re going to have a lot of good talent next year because a lot of people at our school didn’t know about it,” he said. “They didn’t get the chance to because they didn’t hear about it. I think there’s going to be a bigger crowd next year.”
One of those expecting to return is sophomore Kathryn Dillon.
A soccer player in the fall, Dillon thought bowling would be a fun way to keep busy during the winter sports season.
“It’s not what I expected,” Dillon said. “I thought it was going to be easy, but there’s a lot more to bowling. It’s been pretty intense. It’s harder than it looks.”
While this year’s state tournament will consist only of an individual competition, schools have still competed in team meets during the regular season.
The match starts off with each school’s varsity bowlers completing two games. The score for each bowler is added up and combined as total score for each school, and teams are seeded according to highest score.
From there, two teams go head-to-head using the Baker System. In that setup, five bowlers from each team take turns bowling two frames, with the first bowler doing frames one and six. The second bowler takes frames two and seven, and so on.
In its final home match, Souhegan earned the top seed, thanks in part to a 201 and 210 from Crement. Hollis/Brookline and Merrimack faced off as the second and third seeds, respectively, while Goffstown and Laconia bowled, with the winner going against the Sabers.
Goffstown topped Laconia, and in the first game against Souhegan, the teams were tied in the eighth and ninth frames. The Sabers eventually pulled out a 116-114 win, and followed it up with a 151-107 victory to advance.
Souhegan and Merrimack met to determine the winner of the match. The teams stayed close until the late frames, and in the 10th, Merrimack’s Jon Gagne blew the game open with three straight strikes to finish off a 167-123 win.
In the second game, it was more of the same as the Tomahawks won, 155-115.
“The team was pumped up to be first,” Crement said. “Against Goffstown we had some good breaks. Against Merrimack, we had some tough breaks, but we went with it. Second place isn’t something to complain about.”
The Sabers have one more regular-season match, on Saturday at Keene, before the state tournament on Feb. 20 at Raymond. The top 32 individuals, according to average, will compete for the individual title, and Crement expects to be in the mix.
“I just hope to bowl well,” he said. “I’ll see what I can do.”