All in all, Josh Payne liked the results.
"Overall, it was a pretty good season,” Payne said.
Payne, the head coach of the Cathedral High School bowling team, said there were multiple reasons that was true for the program in 2018-2019.
Irish boys bowling fielded a young team in ’18-’19, and the number of bowlers in the program boded well for the future. There were individual standout performances, and solid team efforts. Payne also said while the Irish didn’t field a girls team for the first time in recent memory, there is interest in that program moving forward.
The boys in ’18-’19 also turned in a strong season in terms of results despite being in a tougher conference than recent seasons.
“They’re a great group,” Payne said. “They’re very committed to bowling and enjoy it.”
The Irish finished with 4-6 a record in ’18-’19, a record good for sixth place in the 10-team Indianapolis Northwest Sectional – which included eventual state champion Ben Davis and several other traditionally strong programs.
With the Irish and several other programs not fielding girls bowling teams this past season, the conference was expanded to include multiple Westside schools with strong programs. That made the regular season unusually competitive.
“The boys did a really good job up against that kind of fierce competition,” Payne said.
The Irish not only beat second-place conference finisher – Warren Central – in a dual match, they were the highest-ranked Catholic School in a conference that also included Catholic-school rivals Brebuef, Cardinal Ritter and Bishop Chatard.
Payne called the Warren Central victory a “big win for them.”
“The guys improved a lot over the season,” Payne said. “We have a really young team.”
Key for the Irish in ’18-19 was freshman Charlie Schenck, who finished the season as the team’s Most Valuable Player while maintaining an average between 180 and 190. Payne said Schenck missed qualifying for the regional tournament by about 20 pins, finishing 16th with 14 bowlers advancing.
“He was really the anchor for the team,” Payne said. “He’s got three more years in front of him, so we’re really optimistic about where he’ll go.”
The ’18-’19 season also was one of heavy transition for Irish boys bowling. Of the 10 team members, only junior Aydan Alerding and sophomore Jack Rice returned from the 2017-2018 season. Alerding for the season scored in the 150-range and Rice averaged around 145.
That meant the overall makeup of the team in ’18-’19 was youthful, with an eye for what could be a bright future.
Payne said bowling in a high school environment was a transition for many members of the ’18-’19 Irish for a similar reason to many young teams – because of the inclusion of position rounds that include “Baker Bowling,” during which positions are won in 10 “Baker Games” with each player taking two frames within a game.
“It’s a total team event,” he said, adding: “Most of the team was new. They improved a lot over the course of the season and got better throughout practices and our season once they got a feel for how the competitions were run and how competition would be versus practice. They learned a lot over the course of the season.”
And Payne said his hope is the learning will happen on two Irish teams next year. While the graduation of a senior class that made up the entire 2018 girls team left the Irish with no girls bowlers this past season, Payne said that could change moving forward.
“Our team members have bene recruiting some girls for next year, so we’re optimistic about having a girls team next year,” he said.