SHERRILL, NY — There’s a popular saying: the first time’s always the hardest.
Whitesboro’s Chris Testa can tell you that much. The sophomore bowled his first ever perfect game on Friday, and he was just about ready to drop after the 120th pin fell.
“I’m shaking a lot,” Testa said after the feat, which also gave him the high series in their match at Sherrill Community Center. “It was a really good feeling; I didn’t expect this.”
“It’s always fantastic to see any bowler, whether it’s your own or someone else’s, bowl that well,” Warriors head coach Davis Jecko said of Testa’s feat. “It’s a great accomplishment for him and the team. Chris has been working hard all season…he’s certainly deserving of bowling an honor score.”
Unfortunately for the Warriors, the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill Red Devils, riding the 615 series of senior Alex Hrdlicka, never looked back from an early 120-pin lead, taking the match 7-4 over Whitesboro. Seventh grader Brayden Bechtel had the high series for the Red Devils, rolling a 257 in his final game to rack up a 690 series and grab the sweep in five-man team play.
“I think our team played well today, but Whitesboro was outstanding,” Vernon-Verona-Sherrill head coach Pat Whipple said. “We’re lucky because we have a deep team, and our five-man team was able to carry us through.”
In the early going, however, the focus was on the singles match between Hrdlicka and Whitesboro’s TJ Davis, and neither bowler disappointed, putting together strikes in seven of their first eight frames. That streak would end in the third frame, but Hrdlicka would pick up the spare in that frame to keep pace with Davis. The Whitesboro sophomore would pick up back-to-back strikes near the end of the game, but it would not be enough, as Hrdlicka would take the first singles match by just nine pins, 190-181.
Meanwhile, in five-man play, sophomore Tom Kloster was racking up the strikes as well. After an early foul, Kloster put together an impressive seven strikes to earn high game for the Warriors in the first five-man set with a 235. Unfortunately for the Warriors, it was not enough to stop Bechtel’s 239 and a 257 from junior Kenny Cooper, giving the Red Devils the first set, 1,067-894.
“Lane conditions were good for my shot today,” Kloster said of his performance. “I got off to a slow start, but I didn’t leave any bad spares. I’m happy with the way my team and I performed.”
In doubles, though, seemingly as a prelude to his 300 game, Testa bookended an open frame in which the 9 pin did not want to fall (as it seemed to do throughout the night). He did that with four strikes on one end and five on the other to open his day with a 245 first game, the second highest score of the night in doubles. Combined with his perfect game, Testa would wind up with a 761 series, the high series for both the Warriors and the match.
“It feels good,” Kloster said of his teammate’s perfect game. “When you have a teammate that bowls a 300, It’s a good feeling. I’m really proud of him.”
Back in singles, though, the usually composed Davis was stumbling a little bit, falling behind in his second match with Hrdlicka. The sophomore started his middle frame with back-to-back splits, while Hrdlicka started with an X on his scoresheet in four of his first five frames. As if to bolster his good game, Hrdlicka’s doubles partners, senior Gabe Miller and junior Tyler Casler picked up the slack for him, combining to throw strikes in seven of their first nine frames in Game Two.
“I missed my mark two or three times today,” Hrdlicka said, “but other than that I bowled really well. [Davis is] a really good bowler. The second match, he just couldn’t find the mark, but he’s going to go places.”
After that slight stumble in the early frames, Hrdlicka would not leave a pin standing after the sixth frame, closing out his second game with three spares and two strikes to run away with it, 220-171 over Davis in Game Two.
While all that was going on, Kloster was racking up the strikes once again. He ended his second game with four straight strikes, ending his game with a 190, which was third best in the second set. Unfortunately for the sophomore, the other two scores belonged to Red Devils Dominick Burning (200) and Brady Andrews (212) as the Warriors fell in the second game, 945-792.
“VVS, they’re one of the best teams in the league, and you have to bowl hard,” Kloster said. “I felt I bowled hard today.”
The third and final game was where the perfect game by Testa was bowled, and unfortunately for the Red Devils, it was on the same lane that Hrdlicka and Davis were bowling (singles and doubles teams bowl in the same lanes). At first, it didn’t affect the senior too much, as he, along with his doubles team, managed to close out nine of the first 12 frames, six of those with strikes. Fortunately for Whitesboro, they were just as, if not more, brilliant, throwing strikes on 18 of their first 21 frames between singles and doubles.
“When they kept [throwing strikes], it kind of threw me off my game,” Hrdlicka, who still managed to bowl a 205, said. “I was worrying about them and not me, but hey, that’s bowling.” Despite that, Hrdlicka would compose himself well, smashing four straight strikes to keep the score close. Unfortunately, Davis would come back and grab the win by just nine pins, 214-205 over Hrdlicka.
“When they start worrying about other bowlers, that’s where mistakes are made,” Whipple said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment, though…[Testa] should be proud.”
That 300 game by Testa allowed the Warriors to pick up the 3-0 sweep in doubles, as he and junior Trent Beattie (who also threw an impressive 268 in his final game). Unfortunately, it was not enough for the Warriors, as the Red Devils took the sweep in five-man team bowling to remain undefeated in ten matches this season.
“All of them bowled well today,” Jecko said. “You could have put anyone out there and they would have had a good match today. [VVS is] a good team…they just out-bowled us today.”
The Red Devils still have four matches over the next two weeks (two matches had to be postponed earlier in the season) and are the favorites to dominate in sectionals. In any event. Whipple is determined to make his Red Devils take it one match at a time.
“I told them, they have to stay focused on their game,” Whipple said. “You can only control certain aspects, and that’s your bowling.”
If both teams can do that, expect a lot of white, mixed with both Red Devil Red and Warrior Blue, when sectionals come around in just a few weeks.
Vernon-Verona Sherrill 7, Whitesboro 4
Alex Hrdlicka (VVS) 190 220 205 — 615
TJ Davis (W) 181 171 214 — 566
Chris Testa 245 216 300 — 761 (High game and series)
Trent Beattie 207 200 268 — 675
Totals 452 416 568 — 1,436
Gabe Miller 191 220 212 — 623
Tyler Casler 195 191 175 — 561
Totals 386 411 387 — 1,184
Garrett Loubier 136 119 N/A — 255
Nick White 203 167 229 — 599
Will Trombley N/A N/A 167 — 167 (see Note)
Ryan Kulawy 174 169 170 — 513
Karl Backman 146 147 116 — 409
Tom Kloster 235 190 189 — 614
Totals 894 792 671 — 2557
Note: Will Trombley was substituted for Garrett Loubier in the third game.
Kenneth Cooper 257 175 159 — 591
Brady Andrews 190 212 177 — 579
Brayden Bechtel 239 194 257 — 690
Austin Marris 179 164 191 — 534
Dominick Burning 202 200 199 — 601
Totals 1067 945 983 — 2995
Red Devils 1643 1576 1575 4794
Warriors 1527 1379 1653 4559
Records: VVS 10-0, Whitesboro 9-3.