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Members of the Roosevelt boys' bowling team are Coach Tony Zaddach (left), Jay Sands,, Brent Calhoun, Mike Cheresko, Brett Livingston, Dalton Fields, Jay Sirdan, Nick Janeski and Coach George Purdu. Photo by Dave Gorgon


BOWLING: Roosevelt's Coffey takes up challenge (PHOTOS)

Members of the Roosevelt girls' bowling team are Jasmine Robinson (left), Cheyenne Miller, Coach Vic Hagen, Maria Hancox, Emma Hawkinson and Anna Adamek. Not pictured are Kelsey Blackburn and Christina Goodman. Photo by Dave Gorgon

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A year ago, Wyandotte Roosevelt High School won the Downriver League boys bowling championship, finished second in the Division 1 regional tournament and finished as the 11th best team in the state tournament.

After the graduation of seniors Tony Zaddach and Justin Hamilton, Coach George Purdu challenged returning sophomore Cory Coffey by making him the Bears’ new anchor bowler.

The results have been extraordinary. After bowling a 257 game on Tuesday against Livonia Clarenceville, Coffey’s average climbed to a league-best 226. At one point, he also had the league’s high game and high series.

And his games of 248, 212 and 289 – a 749 series – made him the second best bowler in last weekend’s Wayne County Bowling Tournament.

“Cory has gotten bigger and stronger this year,” Purdu said. “He is really throwing the ball consistently.”

Coffey is a two-handed bowler, which means he holds the ball with two hands upon release. Purdu, who used to work at the former Clemente’s bowling center in Lincoln Park, said Coffey picked up the bowling style as a youngster and has been perfecting it ever since.

“A two-handed bowler has to have control,” Purdu said. “It’s tough. I’ve seen pros that bowl two-handed and they have to be very consistent. I don’t know if I’ve seen a two-hander that is more consistent than Cory. He’s been doing it forever, since he was a little kid. You have to practice and get comfortable with it. It’s not for everybody.”

Coffey is far from the only asset on Roosevelt’s team, which is 6-1 in the combined Downriver League and Western Wayne Athletic Conference heading into this week.

The Bears have seven boys averaging at least 190, giving Purdu plenty of options when putting together his lineup. Junior Mike Cheresko, who played basketball last year, is fourth in the lineup and averaging 211 in his first year of high school bowling. Sophomore Marcus Lesko usually bowls third in the lineup and carries a 195 average.

Purdu often fills the top two spots in the lineup after watching warm-ups before a match or goes with the bowlers with the “hot hand.” He has plenty of talent from which to choose, including seniors Brett Livingston (190 average), Jay Sands (191) and Nick Janeski (192) and juniors Dalton Fields (180) and Jay Sirdan (190).

Livingston propelled his average after bowling games of 215 and 247 against Clarenceville, spelling Coffey as anchor in one of the games. Janeski is one of the most improved bowlers on the team. Fields excels in Baker games – and Roosevelt has the highest Baker game average in the league: 200. Like Cheresko, Sands and Sirdan are great new additions to this year’s team.

“One thing I really preach with the kids is Baker games,” Purdu said. “We’ve been one of the better Baker teams in the league. It’s one thing we really take pride in.”

Purdu, in his third season as boys coach, said his goals include having the Bears return to the team state finals and having bowlers qualify for the individual state finals as well. He said the team is benefiting from the contributions of Zaddach, who returned to help coach this year.

“I feel we have a good chance, but they know it’s not going to happen unless they work hard to get there,” Purdu said. “Our goal is to finish out the season well in the league and then do well at the Division 1 regionals at Woodhaven Lanes.”

The only loss in the league has been to Kennedy. A big head-to-head match with unbeaten Trenton is yet to come.

Coffey said he is “really confident this year.”

“The state tournament was such a good experience,” Coffee said. “There are a lot of good teams out there. I hope we can make it this year and do well at states. I have a very good feeling.”

Where the boys team has tons of experience this year, the Roosevelt girls team is in a rebuilding stage after the graduation of five senior bowlers last June. In fact, the Bears started with four bowlers on the team this year and it took a recruiting drive just to get enough girls to make a team.

Now well into the season, Coach Vic Hagen likes the prospects of his team of two seniors, a junior and four sophomores.

“Losing five seniors is really tough,” said Hagen, in his 13th year of coaching the girls team. “Four of the five had been with me all four years and had a lot of seasoning. A lot of bonds built over the years. But I’m really pleased where we are.”

Senior Christina Goodman – in her fourth year with the team – has the high average, 149. Sophomore Maria Hancox is averaging 139 and leads the team in head to head victories. Fellow 10th-grader Emma Hawkinson carries a 134 average.

Rounding out the team are senior Kelsey Blackburn (119), junior Cheyenne Miller (118) and sophomores Anna Adamek (121) and Jasmine Robinson.

The Bears are in the middle of the pack of the Downriver League and look to move up in the standings.

Last Updated: 1/24/2014 3:41:55 PM EST