By EDWARD KENSIK
kensik@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair High School girls and boys bowling teams might have been bridesmaids in the Super Essex Conference the past couple of years, but this season they took a big step forward.

“We came in second for both girls and boys in the league, which was a big accomplishment from the previous season,” head coach Jenna Totaro said. “Our goal next year is to beat out Nutley and to take first place in both boys and girls.”

The Montclair girls finished with a 9-6 mark, while the boys had a 9-3 record. The Mounties boys lose only one senior, Sam Philo, and the girls two seniors, Alyssa Phillips and Zoe Gelman, to graduation, so they are primed to make a run for the SEC titles for the 2022-23 season.

The girls team grabbed the second spot in the division in the last match of the season by sweeping Bloomfield, 7-0, on Jan. 26. Junior co-captain Abigail Price had a 416 series to lead Montclair.

The big win for the boys came against rival Nutley, which won the SEC, in the third contest between the two schools. The first two times, the Mounties lost, but the third time was the charm, as Montclair came away with a 5-2 victory on Jan. 18. The Mounties took total score by 63 pins while grabbing the first two games.

One of the big highlights for the girls was a third-place finish in the Essex County Tournament on Feb. 9 in Belleville. Nutley and Irvington finished ahead of them, first and second respectively. The Mounties were only 70 pins behind Irvington, 1,819 to 1,749, for second place. Phillips finished seventh in the county individual results with a score of 416.

The boys took sixth in the Essex County Tournament, 90 pins behind fourth-place finisher and rival Nutley, 2,571 to 2,481. Philo finished seventh in total series with a score of 621.

The Montclair High School boys bowling team, with head coach Jenna Totaro, right, finished second in the Super Essex Conference and sixth in the Essex County Tournament. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
The Montclair High School boys bowling team, with head coach Jenna Totaro, right, finished second in the Super Essex Conference and sixth in the Essex County Tournament. (EDWARD KENSIK/STAFF)
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Individually, the highlight for the season came from boys sophomore co-captain Tai Burns, who took the North Jersey 1B state sectional high series at 704 on Jan. 10. 

“I named Tai as a captain this year because I knew of his talent and I wanted to establish matureness as well,” Totaro said. Burns was co-captain with junior Daniel Walker.

It was his poise and confidence that brought Burns the hardware at the state sectional. “I felt really fine and calm during the whole experience,” he said, adding that he knows that there is more to come in 2022-23. “I can prove to myself that I can do better.”

Burns and the Mounties’ lone senior, Philo, garnered All-SEC first-team honors. Burns and Philo registered 187 and 178 averages respectively for the season. A pair of juniors, Hudson Zinn and Walker, made All-SEC second team, as they averaged 158 and 155 respectively.

On the girls side, co-captain Hazel Aiello led the way in honors, as the junior made All-SEC first team with an average of 118. Price and Phillips earned All-SEC second-team honors, as they finished with 116 and 108 averages respectively.