By Ed Townsend
MONTICELLO The dream of bowling in high-level college competition has become a reality for Monticello bowlers James Durland and Eddie Walsh, who starting this fall will become members of the bowling team at Union College in Barbourville, Ky.
Union College has notified both Monticello bowlers that they will receive bowling scholarships.
“With both of these students, along with others in this year’s recruiting class, I believe that we will have a real shot at winning nationals next year,” Union College Coach Brad Piper said.
High praise of Durland and Walsh, who presently compete in United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Men’s and Mixed Leagues at Kiamesha Lanes, also comes from their Saturday Morning Youth League Coach Mal Press. Press met the boys some four years ago and started offering instructions on “angle of entry into the pocket, hand position, lack of torque on the ball at release and subtle changes in their lines to the pocket.”
Press is a highly respected bowler and coach and listed as “one of the better coaches” by the New York State USBC Association.
Piper approached Press and asked him if he had any young men special enough to join his bowling program at Union College. Press offered Durland and Walsh’s names to the coach. On Dec. 10 of last year, the young men journeyed south for tryouts.
The tryouts skills test showed very clearly that Press had indeed helped develop two outstanding young bowlers as both Durland and Walsh recorded the top two scores of anyone that has taken the skills test.
Durland scored the highest score of any recruit with an 875 out of a possible 1000 and Walsh posted the second highest score with a 772.
Press became one of the biggest college recruiters in the country and was a line officer and a board member with the New York City USBC Association. At the age of 70, Press still bowls in eight leagues, is a certified lane inspector and averages in the 190s.
“Knowing the abilities of the boys, it makes me a proud coach and they’ll be nationally recognized without question,” Press commented.
When asked to forecast the future of his team with the two Sullivan County residents as members, Piper said he could see them “battling for a national championship next year with Eddie and James battling for rookie bowler of the year in the nation.”
In discussing the Union College scholarship offer, Durland said, “We should both be getting about a half scholarship, but that can go up next year based on performance.
“I finished second in a recent college ‘Bulldog scholarship tournament’ and won an additional $12,000 [$3,000 a year] scholarship,” Durland added.
Twenty-year-old Eddie Walsh has been bowling for 13 years and came up through the ranks of the Saturday Morning Youth Leagues at Kiamesha Lanes.
Presently a 200-plus average bowler, he has scored several perfect 300 games, the first one coming while bowling in the Jr./Major Saturday Morning Youth League. A 2009 graduate of Monticello Central School, he is single and employed by Kiamesha Lanes and Thompson Sanitation.
James Durland is 19 years old and a 2010 graduate of Monticello Central School. He has been bowling for 14 years, 13 years in the youth league at Kiamesha Lanes.
A 200-plus average bowler, Durland is presently employed at the Pep Boys distribution center in Chester.
As to his future in the sport of bowling, Durland said, “I do look forward to going further with college bowling. The team should have the firepower to compete nationally next year.
“I’d like to see how I compete on a big collegiate stage before I think about bowling professionally,” he added.
Piper is completing his second season of guiding the Union College Bulldogs bowling team. He is the second person to take the helm since the program was revitalized in 2008. He is a Bronze Level USBC coach.
Union College has a long and rich history in athletics and offers 21 different intercollegiate athletic programs. The school is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).