By: William Whalen
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 7:49 PM
Every coach wishes for the best and wants his or her team to do well, but Penn-Trafford bowling coach Bud Cummins never thought his girls bowling team would wind up being one of the best in the state when the season started.
His bowlers proved the long-time coach wrong.
“They just seemed to get better as the year went on,” Cummins said. “I thought they had a chance next year, but you never really know until they get bowling.”
As the season moved along, Penn-Trafford just kept growing as a team and came together at the right time. The Warriors hung around long enough to make their move, and that’s exactly what they did by coming out of nowhere and winning the girls Western Pennsylvania regional team bowling championships at North Versailles Bowl.
“I knew they had the chance to be good, but I really didn’t expect all of this,” Cummins said. “To win the regionals was very surprising and very fun to be at.”
The Warriors swept McDowell, 2-0, in the best of three baker’s game to clinch the regional title.
“This experience has been definitely a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me,” senior captain Dallys Clark said. “I’ve never been on a team that is this focused, dedicated and hardworking.”
The Warriors slipped into the regional finals by placing fourth in February’s WPIBL finals.
“I think that our strong suit would probably be that we support one another,” Clark said. “We’re just always supporting one anther.”
The season was an upward arc for the girls from the beginning. Penn-Trafford finished with a 7-3 record in the WPIBL Southeast Conference.
Penn-Trafford was in the playoff mindset long before the regular season ended and needed big wins over rivals Franklin Regional and Hempfield to lock down the final postseason spot in the section.
Cummins knew there was something special going on after the win over the Panthers.
“I think it’s when we beat Franklin Regional in the second half of the season,” Cummins said. “We had to beat them to have a chance to take second place.
“The next week we faced Hempfield, they were always our nemesis and we beat them in the first meeting and beat them the second game. That was probably the first time in the 17 years I’ve been around that we swept.”
In addition to Clark, the Warriors are led by Taylor Sathornkich at the No. 4 spot, Madison Trainer at No. 3, followed by Mikayla Uranker second and Madison Shank in the leadoff spot.
“I told (the team) that it was awesome we won, but if we stop working because we were the the best once, we will not be the best for long,” Clark said.
Penn-Trafford advanced to last weekend’s state tournament. In addition, senior Mike Barvinchek qualified for the state singles championship. The Robert Morris bowling recruit finished seventh at regionals with a five-game pin total of 1,041. Barvinchek finished top 10 in the state at last year’s championships. Last season wasn’t the finish Barvinchek wanted but a nasty thumb injury held him back.
“Getting back there is definitely a huge confidence booster for me,” Barvinchek said. “Making it to states was something that I’ve wanted to do when I became a Penn-Trafford bowler.”
William Whalen is a freelance writer.