In a change from seasons past, Section III bowling is putting together its All-Star teams for the state championship tournament in a two-part manner.
The first part involved a tournament Monday at Rome's King Pin Lanes, and it was there that East Syracuse-Minoa's Beth Piston and Fayetteville-Manlius' Tricia Miller clinched their spots in that state tournament, to take place March 3 at Strike-N-Spare Lanes.
Only two spots were available because the section is going to take the top individual averages from each of the four leagues - the CNY Counties, Onondaga High School League, Tri-Valley League and Center State Conference - and put them on the All-Star squad after Friday's sectional tournament is complete.
This added the pressure for all the competitors, and it was Piston and Miller that best responded to them in the full-day, six-game shoot-out in Rome.
Piston put together the best three-game series (659) of the entire day. Added to a steady 563 series in the other half, it gave her a total pinfall of 1,222, the only girl to average better than 200 (203.67, to be exact) on tough lane conditions.
For Piston, it was also a bit of sweet payback, for herself and her ESM teammates, after finishing second to Fulton in the Onondaga High School League regular-season race. Two Red Raiders, Kyle Clifford (1,095) and Kendra Tryniski (1,048), finished seventh and ninth, respectively, each of them more than 100 pins behind Piston.
The race for that second state qualifying berth proved a tight one. Miller, Danielle Feocco (Auburn) and Taryn Beattie (Whitesboro) were all within range, but with a pinfall of 1,159, Miller, averaging 193.17, held off Feocco (1,156) by three points and Beattie (1,150) by nine pins to advance.
In the simultaneous boys sectional shoot-out, ESM's Nate Piston had the best individual finish among local bowlers, taking eighth place with 1,234 (205.67 average). Syracuse's J.J. Watt (1,482) and Whitesboro's Brandon Zalewski (1,413) claimed the the two state tournament berths.
But it was Piston's teammate, Sean Gavan, that would garner a spot on the sectional All-Star squad, because he had the top individual average in the Onondaga High School League this winter. So Gavan joins Miller and Beth Piston as state tournament participants.