Buffalo bowlers headed for spotlight of national tourney | In Today’s Daily Sun

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, 2018-06-19 05:07:30

The Villages High School boys bowling team already showed the Sunshine State what it is capable of on the lanes, achieving a third-place finish at the state tournament this past November.

Now, the VHS bowlers are out to impress the rest of the nation.

The Buffalo will take part in the 2018 U.S. High School Bowling National Championship from Saturday to Monday at St. Clair Bowl in Fairview Heights, Illinois, pitting the local bowlers against some of the top talent from around the country. In addition to playing in a singles tournament, the VHS participants will represent the Buffalo together in a team event at the 50-lane venue located about 16 miles east of St. Louis.

“This is a big thing for us,” said Reese Chavis, a rising junior. “It’s really hard to get here, and most teams can’t really get here. We’re here to show what we are and what the bowling team can do.”

VHS automatically qualified for the national competition after placing third overall in the 2017 state tournament in Orlando.

“They deserve it and these kids that have been together for a while, I think they’re at a point where they want to see where they’re at,” said Craig Collopy, VHS head coach. “There could be a lot of scouts there — PBA or collegiate scouts. That’s the big thing. That’s what I want in the long run, is to get one of these guys — especially some of the seniors — to possibly get a scholarship.”

Rising senior Kamden Buzzell, who has competed in tournaments outside of Florida as an individual, said the atmosphere in Illinois will be both new and special for him and his VHS teammates.

“It’s going to give us experience going into states next year and possibly nationals again,” Buzzell said. “We’ll know what the atmosphere is, and we’re just all going to build on it and learn from our mistakes. Just learn from it.”

Collopy said while his team intends to compete hard at the national event, it also plans to have fun in the process.

For Chavis and his teammates, enjoyment will be no problem if they’re able to fulfill their ultimate aspiration.

“We’re trying to go for our highest goal there — we want to win,” Chavis said. “We came all the way from Florida — we’re going to win.”

Chavis said he also would like to win the boys singles tournament during the trip, but will be content knowing he performed his best on the lanes. Sharing that ambition and drive, Buzzell said he is aiming to place in the top 10 or top 20 as an individual.

“Even to be able to advance to the next round of singles would be something crazy because there are thousands of bowlers that are going to be there that are all at my skill level and above,” said Buzzell, who rolled an 810 total in four 10-pin games at the 2017 state meet. “I just have to show my best and do my best.”

If not for the help of others in the community, though, the Buffalo know that their journey to Illinois would not be possible. Along with crediting The Villages Charter School, which paid the tournament entry fee, Collopy thanked the American Legion Post 347 in Lady Lake and the parents involved with the team — especially Pamela Chavis — for their fundraising help.

“It was all about the kids,” said Collopy, who also expressed gratitude for Larry Ducat, owner-operator of Fiesta Bowl and nearby Spanish Springs Lanes, and the hospitality he has shown the team.

Buzzell isn’t surprised that those in The Villages came through for him and his team.

“They all come together, and they’re all there for one purpose is to help people,” Buzzell said. “That’s what The Villages is. If not, then it wouldn’t be the same.”

Tyler Breaman is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5226, or tyler.breaman@thevillagesmedia.com.

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