For Brevard County girls, bowling is business.
Girls around the county are bowling big numbers for their high school teams, and several are steadily keeping their averages above or close to 200 as the competition ramps up on the Space Coast.
Not only are experienced seniors like Tasha Rowe and Gabby Irwin of Merritt Island bringing the heat on the hardwood with averages of 194 and 201 respectively, but so are younger players like Eau Gallie freshman Crystal Elliott, who has a comfortable 187 average with a season-high score of 227.
Rockledge’s Danielle Koehler turned heads with a 290 on Sept. 1. Last year’s FLORIDA TODAY Girls Bowler of the Year, she currently holds a 207 average in varsity matches.
All will be at Harbour Lanes in Melbourne on Monday for the Cape Coast Conference championship tournament. It is the first event along the road to state in Orlando, Nov. 4 and 5.
Mounting competition from each other, along with the outside coaching and the pursuit of college scholarships, provide girls with the incentives needed to bowl their best.
Tom Blasco is a local bowling trainer who works with aspiring high school players to reach the level needed to play at the college level. He’s seen several of his former students go on to bowl at the next echelon.
“The reason they’re bowling better this year is because a lot of them have come up under coaches like myself. As a result of that, it puts them on the college coaches’ radar,” Blasco said. “Their biggest thing right now is most of the girls are looking for what college they can possibly go to and what they can be offered.”
Blasco considers Title IX laws, which require colleges to make athletic scholarships available to female athletes, a door-opener to get girls interested in bowling and higher education.
Between college aspirations and competition from around the county, the pressure pushes the girls to bowl better, said Rockledge coach Leslie Shinault.
“Titusville and Merritt Island are in our district, and they won state and runner-up last year,” she said. “So the competition in Brevard County is high. It’s probably higher than it is anywhere else in the state.”
Photos: High School bowling at Shore Lanes Palm Bay
Top 5 Brevard girls bowling averages
1. Danielle Koehler, Rockledge 207.2
2. Gabby Irwin, Merritt Island 201.7
3. LeAnne McLaughlin, Space Coast 200.8
4. Illyssa Jaraplasan, Titusville 199.0
5. Chasey Cubine, Covenant Christian 197.3
High school sports | floridatoday.com/sports/high-school-sports/