A senior on the Chaminade bowling team, Nick Niles knows what it’s like to lose.
It just hasn’t happened since his freshman year.
The two-time defending CHSAA champions opened the season with a convincing 3-0 win over St. Mary’s Manhasset Tuesday at Sheridan Lanes in Mineola. It was the Flyers 25th consecutive victory dating back to a loss to St. John the Baptist in the 2010-11 semifinals.
“It’s great that I can be part of a team that we work together in such a way that so far we’ve been successful in all of our endeavors,” Niles said. “We have a very solid team. I’m happy about that.”
While it is true success breeds success – Chaminade coach Steve Toner said 10 freshmen came out for tryouts after the first of back-to-back titles – it also bring added pressure, which is something that further fuels the Flyers.
“Most of us feed off the pressure because we know a lot of the times it comes down to the last frame with some of the good teams where we have to mark in order to keep our lead,” Niles said. “Most of the time we pull through because of the pressure.”
A four-year starter, Niles is the Flyers anchor this year, the captain. He bowled a 205 in the second game of a 604 series despite some equipment malfunctions early.
“It’s actually funny, the first game my thumb slug broke so I had to improvise and super-glue it back in,” Niles said. “It was at a bit of an awkward angle so I had to adjust to that a little bit.”
Connor Egan, who bowled the second 300 game of his career against Kellenberg last year, has been watching Chaminade compete since seventh grade. His brother, Ryan, is a senior on this year’s squad.
Connor Egan said he was excited to get his sophomore year started, but then nerves set in when he took to the lanes. The he settled down and bowled a 256 in the final game of a 654 series.
“I had a good day in school today, but then I came here and sort of got nervous and got off to a bumpy start,” Egan said. “I saved myself that last game. I calmed down a little bit.”
Fellow sophomore Fran Labita had the high series – 657 – against the Gaels, rolling a 233 in the second game. The three are what Toner describes as “serious bowlers.”
But they aren’t the only keys to success for the Flyers this year.
“You need to have seven strong bowlers to go all the way,” said Toner, who has won four CHSAA titles in 10 years as head coach.
Toner said it will be difficult to replace Phil Loeschinger, a standout on last year’s team who graduated last June. But led by Niles, Egan and Labita, the goal remains the same even if some of the names have changed.
“We know we’re a good team and we know that it’s possible to do it another year in a row,” Egan said. “It’s not going to be as easy, we lost a bunch of good people from last year. If we can go undefeated that’s just a bonus.”