Guilderland bowlers roll deep, strike 300 games at the same time

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Crossed up: Ben Govel made it to the state competition this year as a bowler for Guilderland; he had an average of 213. Here, he bowls during a match in 2013.

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

Winding up: Guilderland senior Austin Van Buren competed at States for the third consecutive year this season; he averaged 212 per game. Van Buren bowled a perfect game of 300 on New Year’s Eve. Here, he bowls in 2013.

GUIDERLAND — April 3, 2010 was an important day for Guilderland bowlers Austin Van Buren and Ben Govel. Back to back, each bowled his first perfect game of 300.

A perfect game of 300 can be scored only with 12 straight strikes. It’s not a rarity in the sport, but it takes serious focus and skill.

Now, with their Dutch bowling careers behind them after bowling at States as seniors, Van Buren and Govel each have five sanctioned 300s. To this day, the two friends can’t believe they both bowled their first 300 at the same place and time.

“It was special, like, how did that happen?” said Van Buren.

Technically, Govel bowled his 300 first, and then Van Buren followed up.

“I saw what he did, so I told myself that I had to do it, too,” Van Buren recalled. “There’s always been competition between Ben and I; we push each other to be the best. He’s always funny, and, usually, composed.”

Govel told The Enterprise that bowling a 300 is like hitting a home run in baseball; he plays baseball for Guilderland. “If I get all strikes into the seventh frame,” he said, “stuff starts getting into my head.”

When someone is bowling their way to a 300, Guilderland Head Coach Lou Marino said, people start coming over by the eighth or ninth strike. This season, Van Buren bowled a 300 on New Year’s Eve during a tournament at Boulevard Bowl in Schenectady.

“By the 10th strike in a row, no one is bowling; not a sound in the place,” Marino said. “With Austin, though, the silence doesn’t bother him.”

Van Buren said that he was just trying to get the Dutchmen going during the tournament. “I threw the first seven shots loosely, and then I had nine strikes,” he said. “I tried to ignore everybody that was watching, and then I gave my father a hug when it was over because he’s the reason I started bowling. It was a fun day.”

Completing a perfect game of 300 is hard, Van Buren says, and it has to do with nerves. Also, bowlers must read the breakdown of oil on the lane.

“Physically, you can do it, but nerves can get in the way,” said Van Buren, who sees bowling as 60-percent mental. “I have a bunch of balls, so I usually switch between them, but sometimes I don’t.”

Govel’s high game this season was a 279, and a triple of 780. Govel’s average of 213 was one point better than Van Buren’s. Marino said that he never shows any of the Guilderland bowlers their averages during the season.

“They feed off each other, so they’re not trying to out do each other,” said Marino of Govel and Van Buren. “Both of them are excellent at reading the oil and making changes, and both are great at getting spares. I’m impressed with what they did.”

Van Buren and Govel bowled six games each at States in West Babylon on March 1 and 2. Govel scored an 1,190 (for a 198 average) and Van Buren had an 1,150 (for a 192 average).

“Everyone is as good as you are,” Govel said of the state competition. “You have to step up your game.”

Guilderland was 12-4 on the season with a team average of 202. The Dutch had two losses each to Mohonasen and Colonie, but bested Colonie at Class A sectionals.

Marino has been coaching Guilderland for more than 13 years, and says that Van Buren and Govel are two of the best bowlers he’s ever seen. The coach said that Van Buren bowls 300 days per year.

“It’s been a hobby since I was little,” said Van Buren. “Now, it gets me away from everything else.”

Govel and Van Buren bowl in a Saturday league at Town ’N’ Country in Guilderland, which is the home base for the Dutch. However, their Guilderland bowling days are over.

“It’s a skill that not many people have,” Govel said. “If I go out with friends for fun, I see a lot of bad bowling.”


The Voorheesville bowling team placed fifth out of 11 in the Colonial Council with a record of 8-8.

The Blackbirds were led by senior Deanna Lee with an average of 183; she made the First Team All Colonial Council. Senior Jared Paigo had an average of 181.

Matt Flandreau, an eighth-grader, had an average of 174 this season, and looks to anchor Voorheesville for the foreseeable future, Head Coach Kyle Turski said.


The Berne-Knox-Westerlo bowling team finished fourth in the Western Athletic Conference this season and placed seventh out of 28 teams at Class C sectionals.

As WAC Most Valuable Player, Derek Hempstead had a 198 average for the Bulldogs. Hempstead had a high game of 256 this year, and was the only BKW bowler to score a triple over 700.

“He’s lights out…has ice water in his veins,” BKW Head Coach Matt Decker said of Hempstead. “He’s focused, and his father is a great bowler, too. It’s nice to watch them bowl together.”

BKW had seven bowlers who finished with an average of 150 or better, and seventh-grader Sebastian Iarusso had a 138 average.

“We should have the same line-up for next year,” Decker said. “I’m always impressed with the talent. Our kids have a lot of desire to bowl.”

Nick Bernard had the 16th best average in the WAC at 178. Chris Young had an average of 174.

“They’re passionate about finding the right spot on the lane,” said Decker. “They could throw a rock with three holes in it, and still get a good score.”

Greg Gustafson bowled 39 games for BKW this season for a 171 average before suffering an injury to his throwing hand. Decker said that a “nasty” blister formed on Gustafson’s hand. “His finger was getting torn up, so I had to pull him out,” Decker said. “To his credit, he still wanted to bowl.”

The Bulldogs’ team score broke 1,000 in a few matches, Decker said, including a tie with WAC champion Middleburgh at 1,023 pins. Decker had never before seen a tie in bowling.

“Players’ scores were so high that we were asked to re-add the results,” said Decker. “It felt like a strike combine.”