---- — The future of the Shikellamy High School bowling program seems to be in good hands as several up-and-coming bowlers took center stage Saturday when Strike Zone Lanes held its annual youth tournament.
The top 10 averages from the four age groups -- bantams (ages 6-8), preps (9-11), juniors (12-14), majors (15-18) -- competed to see who is the best young kegler the lanes has to offer.
Bowlers rolled a five-game scratch series based on total pins.
The boys title was claimed by Noah Thomas, 16, by just seven pins over classmate Randy Ripple, 1094-1087, after the former ended his day with a 246 game compared to a 206 for Ripple.
Thomas' other games were 202-174-206-266-256, while Ripple's were 243-193-244-201-206.
The third through fifth finishes went to Brant Houghton (1066), Jake Kratzer (1026) and Rusty Lauver (955).
Houghton, 19, has already ended his high school career for the Braves. However, in addition to Thomas and Ripple, Kratzer is 16 and Lauver is 15.
The girls competition was won by 13-year-old Hope Heller-Herman with an 882 total (171-180-178-205-148). Becka Klock, 15, came in a close second with an 880 total (150-174-225-160-171).
If the results from those two bowlers don't prompt you to think to the future of Shikellamy bowling, than the following three definitely will.
The youngest finisher on the day, 13-year-old Kristen Derr, the daughter of Strike Zone's Mark Derr and Denise Derr, was third with an 865 total (148-162-208-167-180). She was followed by 15-year-old Beth Roush (792) and 16-year-old Shealyn Oto (785).
"We have a very young and talented group of girls coming up that could be very special to watch in the upcoming years," said Mark Derr, who is also an assistant coach for the Shikellamy program. "The boys group has been exciting recently with the accomplishments that they've had."
Kristen Derr is already being compared to her older sister, Shelby, who was arguably one of the best high school bowlers to come out of the area.
"Kristen's game is really starting to come together, and she has been flirting with a 600 series and she has been throwing some 200 games recently," said Mark Derr. "She has much more natural ability at her young age than Shelby did, but Shelby overcame that by working hard to elevate her game much quicker than expected at that age."
While Shelby Derr is now making a name for herself at Saint Francis University, Kristen is working hard to get where her big sis is.
"I don't know how much of Shelby's success has mattered to Kristen, but she does hear the comparisons to her sister quite often and she is just as competitive as Shelby," said Mark Derr. "Hopefully Kristen will use any of those things as motivation to reach her goals. I think Shelby is rooting for her sister just as much as Kristen cheers her on during her competitions.
"It has been extremely fun to watch the two girls in their journey, and watching both of my daughters excel in this sport like they have is a joy for both Denise and myself."
DERR RECEIVES NEC HONORS: Following her performance in Saint Francis' first-ever appearance in last month's Northeast Conference Tournament, freshman Shelby Derr was named to both the NEC All-Tournament Team and All-Rookie Team.
The rookie right-hander posted a team-best 19.35 frame average over the 40 frames she bowled during the tournament. And in those 40 frames, only six went unfilled during the two-day event.
Following a 4-2 win over rival Kutztown, Saint Francis advanced to the NEC finals only to fall to Adelphi, 4-0.
"Shelby got stronger as the weekend progressed," Red Flash coach Tom Falbo was quoted as saying. "She found a great look on the outside part of the lane. Her A-game is playing inside, but I've seen her throw tremendous sets playing outside of the 7 board, and her confidence should be bolstered by her solid performance."
Joining Derr, a two-time NEC Rookie of the Week, on the all-tournament team were Kutztown's Rebecca Velazquez and Lauren Stamm, the latter a freshman who appeared in the previous two PA State High School finals for Governor Mifflin prior to joining the Golden Bears.
ROLL-OFFS WON AND TO BE WON: Best Bowl's Tuesday Men's Late League championship was decided in a roll-off as the Meiserville Boys claimed the title. Team members and their high scores from the finals are Timmy Walls (184, 494), Bubba Aungst (200, 502), Kyle Witmer (202, 513) and Brent Womer (225, 617).
In the Thursday Night Men's Early League, C.S.S.I won the final third and the team will have a roll-off this week against Maneval Excavating, the Beatles and Country Tavern to decide the overall league championship.
Until next time, stay out of the gutters.
n Brian Holtzapple is a correspondent who covers bowling for The Daily Item. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.