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Last updated: March 12. 2014 6:24AM - 1532 Views
By John Medeiros jmedeiros@civitasmedia.com



Hazleton Area High School bowling coach Shawn Evans gives Jamie Kulaga some pointers during a recent practice at Bowl Arena in West Hazleton. The girls team is headed to states in Pittsburgh this weekend.
Hazleton Area High School bowling coach Shawn Evans gives Jamie Kulaga some pointers during a recent practice at Bowl Arena in West Hazleton. The girls team is headed to states in Pittsburgh this weekend.
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If you are skeptical as to whether or not these young bowlers are athletes, the Cougars have some news for you. Every member of the team enjoyed serious involvement in other sports growing up, from softball and basketball, to karate, baseball and gymnastics. A couple were dancers as well.

And they manage to stay busy in high school. Meghan Lizbinski is in the marching band and Miranda Rish is on the cross country team.



WEST HAZLETON — The term “high school bowling” may leave some with visions of teens running around a darkened bowling alley on a Friday night, music blaring throughout the house. Sodas, trips to the arcade, others shooting pool.


That’s not high school bowling at all.


“Believe it or not, you do have to be athletic,” said junior co-captain Jamie Kulaga, a “phenomenal basketball player,” according to bowling coach Shawn Evans. “It’s not just going to the local house with friends.”


The high school game is very much like what you might see on televised PBA event. And practices are like they might be for any other high school sport. The bowlers are focused on their work on the lanes — form and technique are discussed and honed.


These Cougars can tell you about ball speed on their shots, and not in terms of simply fast or slow. They talk in miles per hour, they explain the science of the sport as they go over their strategy.


To reach states, the Cougars bowled like never before — literally.


“We bowled five singles, then three Bakers,” junior Miranda Sosar said. “Then we bowled three more Baker games, so six in all. That’s 11 so far, and three more, so we bowled 14 games all together.”


Right on cue, Kulaga pulled off the “but wait, there’s more!” moment.


“Then we went to the final,” Kulaga said.


“Oh, yeah. So we bowled 20 games in two days,” Sosar said. “We’re tough.”


It was a weekend a recreational bowler would never consider, a test of stamina and ability on par with other high school championships.


“And it’s a workout,” Kulaga said of the competition schedule. “We’re throwing 15-, 17-pound balls.”


The team practices daily, and like athletes from other sports, often gathers during their spare time to partake in their sport in pick-up games.


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