Rolling its way to success

As the bitter taste of the men’s basketball team’s performance this season subsides, there is still a St. John’s team that might play for a national championship.

Coach Bill Delawski’s experienced bowling squad sits atop the power rankings in both the Bowling Writers Association of America and CollegeBowling.com’s. The primary group features five upperclassmen on a six-man roster. Four are nominees for All-American status by the National Collegiate Bowling Association, including standout Andy Lomanto, considered one of the top four collegiate bowlers in the country by CollegeBowling.com.

With such a wealth of talent and experience, Delawski is confident that the Red Storm can challenge for national prominence. “I really think that we are one of the best teams in the country… the guys have proven themselves all season and it’s time for us to go win a national championship,” he said.

The bowling team at St. John’s University competed under the sanction of the NCAA as a varsity squad until it was downgraded to a club team, a result of the emergence of the women’s volleyball program in 1992. It does not offer scholarships to the players and sometimes, the team helps find additional sources of revenue. Delawski said the team has been able to remain afloat many times by raising money on its own.

“The team gets traveling money… we raise additional funds by selling raffle tickets,” he said. The team now competes under the auspices of College Bowling USA and practices in nearby Bellerose Lanes in Queens.

Recruiting takes place even though Delawski conceded that the process “is sometimes left to the guys on the team, who might know bowlers in different leagues. They might see a person more than I do.” Tryouts are always held, however, in the hopes of discovering a diamond in the rough. The coach outlines what he looks for in a bowler. “I look at score and technique before making my final decision.”

The team aims to do some damage at the IBC Regional qualifiers this weekend. It will compete as the top team in its section, based in Downingtown, PA. where the top four teams will go to the national championships and compete against the top four teams from three other sections across the country.

But Delawski has been around long enough not to get overconfident. “Stranger things have happened, but this team is mature enough to handle the pressure and I expect us to do well,” said Delawski.