For the first time in history, a Penn Manor athletic team has won back-to-back state titles.
The boys’ bowling team accomplished that feat when it beat Ephrata, 194 to 160, to earn the PIAA Bowling Championship title March 18 at Dutch Lanes in Ephrata.
“It was more exciting to win the second one than the first one,” said coach Chris Vital. “The hard work that we put in paid off.”
Penn Manor qualified for regional competition after finishing second behind Warwick (coached by Chris’s brother, Neal Vital) in Section 1. The Comets then placed fourth in regionals, earning them a spot in the state playoffs March 18.
The top 12 teams in the state – six from the east and six from the west – went head to head, and Penn Manor ended up in second place, tied with Pennsbury, at 4,115 points each. Amazingly, one pin either way would have broken the tie.
That forced the Comets to win a tie-breaker against Pennsbury before facing them again in the semifinal round.
“They had beaten us the week before, and they have a good team, so it was going to be a pretty close match,” Vital said. “But we beat them both games” in the best-of-three match.
Before taking on the top seeded Ephrata team, the Comets had a 30-minute break they used for some last-minute practice that Vital said helped hone the team.
The first game ended in a tie, but the Comets won the tie-breaker when Nick Fisher rolled two strikes in the 10th frame. Penn Manor easily won the second game to clinch the championship.
Vital credits the win to that last-minute practice, clutch bowling by seniors Fisher, Tanner Simet, Kyle Shertz and Austin Curtiss, and strong fan support.
“We had a much bigger fan base there compared with last year’s final in Pittsburgh,” he said. “A lot of students were there. A lot of alumni were there. It was just a really big base, and I think the kids responded to that.”
Other members of the state championship team include Nick Mease, Dan Mease and Mark Smith. The coaches are Vital, Ed Fisher and Alan Wakefield.
The Comets now qualify to participate in the U.S. High School Bowling National Championship in Smyrna, Tennessee, in June.
Congratulations to all for making Penn Manor history!