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BIIF bowling: Kamehameha freshman proves quick study on the lanes

October 26, 2017 - 12:05am

A sign-up sheet at the middle school passes as a feeder program for Kamehameha’s girls bowling team.

Dioni Lincoln saw it and figured why not?

“I had never bowled before, but it was different, so let’s try it,” Lincoln remembers thinking.

Lincoln didn’t just try. She did it.

Softball is in her blood.

The younger sister of Kiarra Lincoln, a four-year standout for the Warriors softball team and a freshman for the UH-Hilo Vulcans, and the daughter of former assistant softball coach Derek Lincoln, Dioni is expected to make an early impact as Kamehameha vies for its seventh consecutive BIIF Division II title in 2018.

But her first whirlwind success came not in the pitching circle or batter’s box, but on the alley. A few months after picking up the sport, Lincoln captured the BIIF championship as a freshman, anchoring the Warriors as they claimed their first league title.

“She’s a natural,” Kamehameha girls coach Alison Julian said, “and coming from a softball background, that really helped her develop.

“She’s not a power bowler, she’s just throwing the ball out there where she needs to throw it.”

Born on the Garden Isle, Dioni “Kauai” Lincoln will be competing on her home turf alongside her teammates Thursday and Friday at the HHSAA bowling championships at Kauai Lanes, where the Warriors also will be represented by BIIF boys champion David Kohara.

Konawaena’s boys will be competing as a team as well after claiming their second BIIF title in three seasons.

Kohara, a sophomore, also has picked up the sport quickly and has become a pleasure to mentor, Kamehameha boys coach Ricky Torres said.

“Honestly, last year when he threw his first ball at BIIFs, he turned around and looked white as a ghost,” Torres said.

On Oct. 14 at KBXtreme in Kailua-Kona in the finals, Kohara set the tone early, reeling off 186, 184 and a 157 in the first half of his six-game set.

“After the first three games, it was over,” Torres said.

With 967 pins (162.2 average), Kohara bested Kealakehe’s BeeJay Ramiro (148.8) and Billy Joe Freitas (148.6) and Konawaena’s Hunter Tavares (145.2), with Kealakehe’s Adam Foster (142) rounding out the top five.

“For (David), it’s all about technique,” Torres said. “He doesn’t try to do too much with the ball.

“Working with him, it’s kind of easy, because he loves the sport.”

Tavares was the best bowler during the regular season, knocking down a league-high 213 pins Aug. 26 and following that up with a 200 game during a match Sept. 9. Coach Clyde Takafuji said the Wildcats eked out a narrow victory for the team title in a race that went down to the final game.

Chai Kaaihui, Jayse Takimoto, Wyatt Savella, and Byrson- James Abe also will participate for Konawaena at states.

Tavares stands out from others because he’s an ambidextrous bowler.

“You can rest (an arm) and put more revolutions on the ball,” Takafuji said. “Being young men, they enjoy the power.”

Lincoln so far is relying on technique.

The release in bowling, she said, is similar to that of a softball pitcher, and her father helped her with her footwork and understanding the four- step and five-step approaches before she started practicing.

“We ask the kids to look at the arrows as their mark, but she said she was having a hard time with that so she goes back to her softball background,” Julian said. “She pictures the head pin as home plate. It’s almost like she’s pitching. She throws a straight ball.”

Right off the bat, Lincoln was a hit.

In her first competition at Hilo High’s preseason tournament at KBXtreme, Lincoln rolled a 184, which still stands as her high game, securing four strikes in a row.

“It was kind of joke,” Lincoln said, “the coaches were saying we should have pitching practice. That was funny.

“My whole team helped me out and made me feel more comfortable.”

Lincoln rolled a high game of 179 during the regular season and entered BIIFs as the second seed. Her biggest adversity during the final was taking a 105 in her fourth game.

“I looked at my dad and said I don’t know what went wrong,” Lincoln said. “He said you have to make a good comeback.”

She bounced back with a 182 and reached 901 pins (150.2 average) to score a comfortable victory. Kealakehe’s Kara Nishida (128.8) and Joie Agard (128.8), Hilo’s Victoria Pailate (127.5) and Kamehameha’s Ashley Midel (126) rounded out the top five.

“Toward the end, I started to pick up more spares,” said Lincoln, whose next goal is to reach 200.

During the regular season, the Warriors’ second-best scorer was Kaila Ambrosio, who bowled from the leadoff spot as Kamehameha finished 18-3 to become the first East Hawaii school to win a team title, boys or girls, since Hilo Lanes closed in 2014.

The crown ended a much longer wait for Julian, who formerly coached at Pahoa before eventually starting programs at Keaau and then Kamehameha.

“I’m glad because it took me 34 years to get here,” Julian said. “We’ve come so close, all the time, and it’s always Kealakehe that is our foe.”

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