Bowling season off to strong start under new coaching staff


Alexis Hoedeman

Bowling coaches Mr. John Sabol and Mr. Doug Burnikel set high goals for the bowling team as they enter a new, tough conference.

The Red Knight bowling team is heading into the 2014 season under a brand new coaching staff. Replacing Mr. Jim Picard is business department chair, Mr. John Sabol, who will serve as the head adviser of the program and coach of the Varsity team. “I’m excited about the season; it’s a team where the members can really make what they want of it,” Sabol said.

Before accepting a job teaching math at Shanley high school in Fargo, ND, Picard wanted to make sure the program was going to be in good hands. “I would always chat with Mr. Picard, and when he was talking about things he did here, he wanted to make sure those shoes were filled before he left. I told Mr. Pettinger I was interested, he laid out the expectations, and it sounded like a lot of fun to step in,” Sabol said.

Assisting Sabol is BSM alum Doug Burnikel, who will coach the JV team as well as provide on-lane instruction during practices. Burnikel bowls regularly in competitive leagues and will bring years of experience to members of the JV team, which will prepare them for the Varsity stage. “I don’t have as strong of a bowling background as Picard does, but I’m glad to have Doug step in for more of the coaching side of it. He has 50 years of experience and he’ll help kids become better bowlers. I can help out with rides and coordinating, but he’s valuable for the whole bowling side of it,” Sabol said.

Sabol also plans to stay as head adviser coach long-term in an effort to keep the bowling program at BSM going strong. “I wanted to make sure there was continuity and to continue a program so kids can participate in an extracurricular sport where it’s about both camaraderie but also competition. I’d like to see more freshman on the team too, because everybody likes to bowl,” Sabol said.

With new coaches and leadership by senior captains Danny Fritsche and Joe Kleven, as well as their first match under their belts, the Red Knights are entering their second season as part of a revamped Metro West conference, which includes Chesterton Academy, Eden Prairie, Edina, Holy Angels, Hopkins, and St. Louis Park. BSM’s Varsity team finished fourth in the conference last year, with St. Louis Park having won the Metro West conference title the past two seasons.

In the JV division, BSM’s JV White and Red teams finished third and fifth last year, respectively, among a field including two Hopkins teams, St. Louis Park, and Holy Angels. “We need to do three things this year: beat a stacked Hopkins and SLP, throw strikes, and pick up those spares,” senior captain Danny Fritsche said.

Both Varsity and JV teams have seven matches this season, most of which are on Fridays, plus the Metro West conference playoffs on November 14. The first match of the year was at Tuttle’s Bowling Bar & Grill on Friday, September 12. BSM took Eden Prairie five games to zero and later defeated Holy Angels four games to one. “I’m walking into the program kind of like a blank slate; [the conference] is a whole community of bowlers, it’s about competition but it’s also about enjoying bowling among the other schools,” Sabol said. “If you’re someone who really enjoys the sport, that’s great, but if you aren’t that into it, that’s okay too. It’s all about getting together and having fun.”