By MIKE MEILER
Niagara Gazette — Tyler Roskwitalski has always been a good bowler.
Lew-Port’s junior is entering his fifth year on the school’s varsity team, having made the team as a seventh grader, and is coming off a sophomore season that landed him a spot on the second All-Niagara Frontier League team. He’s bowled his whole life, spending many a day with his father, Dean, at a local alley learning the tricks of the game, and goes all over Western New York with his travel bowling team to get a taste of top local competition.
This year, though, Roskwitalski’s taken his game to the next level. Lew-Port’s lead kegler is pacing the NFL — traditionally one of the top leagues in WNY — with a 230.89, more than 13 points better than the next highest bowler and more than 25 points better than his average from last year.
“He’s gotten off to the best start he ever has, and I’ve had him for five years,” Lew-Port coach Dave Sicoli said. “He’s a student of the game, and he really works at it. I’ve been bowling my entire life, and he sees some things out there on the lanes that I would never notice.”
Most of Roskwitalski’s success comes from his approach to the game, which includes a thorough understanding of local lanes and a few quirks. Roskwitalski uses up to six balls a game, with different balls drilled in different locations for varying splits and lane conditions.
“When he comes to the match, you would think he’s going on vacation or something with all the bags he’s carrying,” Sicoli said. “He studies the game, and depending on the oil pattern and what kind of spare he’s going for, he’ll use a different ball on his second shot.”
Once he’s settled in at a lane, Roskwitalski uses his extensive knowledge of local alleys to prepare himself. Bowling in the area for all these years has its advantages, he says, and he knows how different lanes at different alleys will carry.
“In high school, we only bowl at a few houses so it’s easy to get a feel for a lane and how it’s rolling,” he said. “Bowling’s a big mental game. If you’re throwing the ball bad, it’s going to be affecting your mental game, so you’ve got to be prepared.”
Roskwitalski does have a great deal of natural ability as well. Sicoli said the physical maturation from seventh grader to junior has done wonders for his game and raves about his potential.
The coach wouldn’t rule out the possibility of playing beyond college, even.
“He’s a tall kid, very lanky, and he throws a ball that just explodes to the pocket,” Sicoli said. “You feel like if you blink, you might miss the pins go down.
“I look for him to get some scholarships and play in college. I could see this kid making the PBA some time down the road, just the way he throws the ball. If he wants to concentrate on it, he’s got that kind of ability.”
For now, Roskwitalski is content to work on more current goals, such as qualifying for states and keeping up a high average. He said a 220 average was his goal coming into the season, but he’s raised that a bit after his hot start.
“I know these houses and we bowl at home a lot,” he said,” so I think I should be able to keep it around 225 to 230. I’ll be happy with that. Hopefully that would get me in the pool for sectionals, and hopefully then I can get into states.”Follow high school sports reporter Mike Meiler on Twitter @mikemeiler for updates on your local teams.