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Story and photos by Alice Gerard
One of the most difficult feats to accomplish in bowling is the 800 series. To succeed at that, the bowler must average 267 in a series of three games. According to Craig Davis, coach of the Grand Island High School boys’ bowling team, senior bowler Talon Newton succeeded in doing exactly that.
“I know we’ve talked about Talon before at the board meeting,” Davis said at the March 27 gathering of the Grand Island Board of Education at the high school. “He’s the one who threw the 300, with a 7-10 split. Later in the year, he threw an 800. That’s harder to do than throwing a 300. I’ve thrown a 300, but I’ve never come close to an 800.”
Talon, a senior, had been honored with the 2022-23 Niagara Frontier League (NFL) Sportsmanship Award.
“We had a great team,” Davis said. “We had some tough losses that probably shouldn’t have happened. But the highlight of our season came with the sectional tournament. There were 42 teams, and we came in third overall and won the Class B championships. There are four classes and 42 teams. Unfortunately, if you win class B, you don’t win overall and you don’t go on to states. But the section sends what we call an all-star team. There are 285 individual bowlers. Of those, they take the top six bowlers to the New York state finals, and they bowl as an all-star team for Section VI.
“You might notice that we have two guys wearing a nice Section VI jersey here. That’s because both finished in the top six. Talon was fourth overall, and (freshman) John Coram was sixth overall.
“I’ve been coaching for 20 years. I’ve had two people finish one place away from going to states. This is the first time I’ve had someone making it. And not only do I have one, I have two, which is the first time that’s ever happened for this school.”
According to Athletic Director Jon Roth, who gave a presentation on the winter sports season teams at the Board of Education meeting, Grand Island had a successful year, with both teams and individual players.
The girls’ hockey team, made up of students from Grand Island, Kenmore and Lockport, was the division champions, as well as the Section VI champions. They also made it to the final four in the New York state tournament.
Coach Jeff Orlowski from the Kenmore-Tonawanda Union Free School District said, “I’m very proud of the girls. I want to thank Dr. Graham for driving out to Utica to come see us. Mr. Roth, you’ve been extra supportive, and all the board members and teachers throughout the year have been great.
“It’s been a pretty exciting year. It’s the best season we’ve ever put together in Kenmore hockey. We went 11-0 in our first league games without allowing a goal. You don’t say the ‘shutout’ word after a game, let alone 11 in a row. We went 14-0 to start the season. We lost only one game in league play. We were 15-1 in league and 17-1 overall, winning our second-ever federation title, which goes to the team with the best record. We clinched the No. 1 seed going into sectionals.”
Orlowski said he was very touched by the support that Grand Island showed the hockey players.
“The most impressive thing was what Grand Island did for us before we left,” he said. “We showed up at the high school to pick up the girls with the bus, and we walked through the hallways of (the school). It was four-students deep. All the teachers, every single kid in the school, were down these hallways as we walked through.
“Then we got out back here, and Dr. Graham and Mr. Roth had arranged for the fire company and the police department to escort us off the Island. We then drove over to the elementary school. All the elementary school kids were lined up outside the school. Our girls got off the bus and high-fived a whole group of kids along the way, which was really cool.
“Just before the game, we were warming up, and one of my players, a Kenmore kid, said, ‘We can’t lose today.’ I go, ‘Well, you could. I hope you won’t.’ She said, ‘We have to do it for the people of Grand Island.’
“It was very touching that they would think that way. They are going for a game that’s probably the biggest that they will ever play, and they’re thinking about what you guys did for us. We can’t thank you enough.”
Grand Island students who were recognized for playing on the hockey team were Natalie Kopf, Isabella Jayne, Teagan Willats, Megan Pinzel, Ella Johnston and Madison Flory.
In addition, Sydney Knight won the Mr. & Mrs. Alan Elia Memorial Scholarship Award. This award, Roth said, is “given to one male and one female athlete among 14 high schools.”
Sydney told the Board of Education, “To be considered for the scholarship, I had to be nominated by my coaches and have high grades. I’m a National Honor Society Scholar Athlete. In order to win the scholarship, I had to be a senior basketball player that exemplifies sportsmanship, fair play, and teamwork. I wrote an essay on how basketball has impacted my life greatly. I want to thank you so much.”
The Niagara Frontier League also presented Grand Island High School senior Lily Koslowski with the female prep award and Eddie Kwarciak with the male prep award. They both won scholarships to play sports in college. Lily will play Division I lacrosse at Canisius College, and Eddie will play Division II volleyball at Canisius College.
Eddie, who spoke at the meeting, said, “I’d like to thank Mr. Roth and the athletic department for nominating me for the Niagara PAL Athlete of the Year. It’s a great honor to represent the Grand Island School District. I’d also like to thank all my coaches and teammates for giving me the opportunity to live out my high school dreams. I’d like to thank my entire family for their love and support.”
Other students who were honored include Claire LeFevre, who won a patch for outstanding sportsmanship in girls’ basketball; and Dylan Andrews, who also was awarded for outstanding sportsmanship, in boys’ basketball.
Also, at the Board of Education meeting, John Paul Szczublewski was honored for earning the rank of Eagle Scout. He told the Board of Education, “Thank you for having me join you here this evening to be recognized for my Eagle Scout accomplishment. I completed my Eagle Scout project at St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic parish in Buffalo, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary. My mom and I are parishioners there. Every Saturday, I serve as head acolyte during the liturgies. We are also very active members of the Buffalo Ukrainian community. Many of us have family in Ukraine and, with the war still raging overseas, the feelings of heartache and uncertainty compelled me to focus my Eagle Scout project on something that would benefit my fellow Ukrainians here at home.”
Grand Island School District Superintendent Brian Graham told John Paul, “You distinguished yourself as a young man of integrity, who is committed to the service of others. The characteristics of an Eagle Scout are deeply woven into the fiber and DNA of your being. You represent the finest of the next generation. Your citizenship, responsibility and morality have convinced me that we are in good hands with people like you.”
Eagle Scout John Paul Szczublewski and his mother, Susan Szczublewski, with the Grand Island Board of Education and Schools Superintendent Brian Graham.