Puleio leads boys by solid example

By: James McKeever
   As a freshman and sophomore, Gregg Puleio was simply a good bowler on a standout bowling team. He was able to blend in, without a lot of pressure, and just be "one of the guys" on a team that won back-to-back division titles.
   Now a junior for the Monroe High School bowling team, Puleio is still a talented bowler – one of the best in the GMC in fact – and he’s still one of the guys. But Puleio has something else on his plate this season. As a three-year starter, he has inherited the job of team leader, he along with senior and four-year starter Nick Zirkel.
   "He’s had to take on that responsibility," said Monroe coach George Packard. "And he has done quite well in that role."
   Much was expected from Puleio this season. After all, this is a young man who bowled a perfect game as a freshman and earned a place on the GMC All-White Division team after averaging 205 last season.
   Puleio has not disappointed. As Monroe searches for consistency as a team, Puleio has been steady from the start, averaging 212.
   "I think I’ve bowled pretty well," he said. "The lane conditions have been consistently good all season and our coach is always there to help us out, reminding us what to do if we need it. I’ve been able to keep my mechanics sound and I have been consistently finding my mark."
   What about the added pressure of being looked to as a team leader?
   "I’m comfortable with that," Puleio said. "I was prepared for it. It’s a little added pressure, but I like it."
   On Tuesday the Falcons improved their record to 6-8-1 with a 4-0 victory over New Brunswick. Puleio rolled three plus-200 games (236-234-202) for a team-high 672 set. The team had been off for 11 days during the school holiday break.
   Puleio usually lets his bowling numbers speak for themselves, but will speak up when necessary.
   "He’s not a ‘hoot-and-holler guy’ like some of the other kids," Packard said. "He is usually a leader by example. But Gregg will talk to the younger guys and help them when they need it."
   Supporting Puleio in Tuesday’s victory were Derek Witt with a 654 series (204, 257 games) and Zirkel with a 641 (220, 231). Also, Dan Seyfried rolled a pair of 200 games (201, 207) and Mike Leatherwood produced a 212 game and 560 set.
   In one of their better showings of late, the Falcons rolled back-to-back 1,000 games to start the match and finished with a 3,109 total pinfall.
   Monroe’s boys and girls teams bowled against Colonia on Wednesday.Next week they face South Plainfield on Tuesday, then compete in the GMC Individual qualifying tournament on Wednesday. Next Thursday the boys bowl against St. Joseph’s while the girls square off with Mother Seton. On Saturday, Jan. 14 Monroe will compete in the Winter Classic, a big tournament that involves nearly every team in the state.
   "We haven’t bowled as well as we should as a team," Puleio said. "We need to improve the second half of the season."
   The girls team, which won seven matches all last season, defeated New Brunswick 4-0 on Tuesday, boosting the Falcons’ record to 7-5-3.
   Shannon Weber rolled a team-best 502 as the Falcons knocked down 2,327 pins. Val Michaud added a 483 and Nicole Chasan a 466.