MEDFORD >> It didn’t take long for Brenna Derby to find out if the hard work she put in on the lanes during the off-season would show dividends.
A senior captain and anchor on the Seneca High School girls bowling team, Derby rolled an impressive 244 in the Golden Eagles’ 4-0 victory over visiting Cherry Hill West in the season-opening Olympic Conference Patriot Division match Jan. 26 at Medford Lanes.
The 244 was a personal-record by 52 pins and tied the single-game school record shared by Samantha Foster (2012-13) and Erin Welling (January 2014).
“Brenna joined us in her sophomore year and simply gets better every year,” said Seneca third-year coach Becki Ellis. “She has great determination and when she wants to achieve something she won’t quit until she does. It’s a great quality to see as a captain. She is interested in bowling in college and has really stepped up her game this past summer.”
Against the Lady Lions, Derby started with a 164, followed by her stellar game and then finishing with a fine 215. The 623 series is also a huge personal best, bettering a 495 she posted in a December 2019 match.
“Brenna has been trying to beat this (single-game) score her whole career with Seneca,” said Ellis of Derby, who has a strong 189 average heading into this shortened season. “While she is happy with a tie she isn’t giving up this early in the season on beating it.”
Derby beat the record two days later as Seneca was back on the lanes when Seneca’s boys team was hosting visiting Cherokee Jan. 28. (The Chiefs don’t field a girls team).
The senior rolled a school-record 247 in her first game and finished the day with a 588 series.
After a spare and open frame in the second, Derby strung six strikes in a row. The senior went nine-spare in the ninth frame and had three strikes in a row to close out with a 247.
Derby’s average has climbed from 141 her sophomore year to 154 last year. And now it is nearly 190 now.
“For the past six months since bowling alleys have reopened, I have been training for my senior season by bowling 15 to 20 games a week,” said Derby. During the fall I was a member of Medford Lanes Youth Bowling League working with Coach Connie; I currently do the winter league as well. I compete in USBC youth tournaments across New Jersey and Pennsylvania in order to experience new alleys and competing conditions. As I’ve begun to look at colleges that have bowling, I’ve gotten great advice from coaches virtually and have been introduced to Pavlinko Pro Shop owner and bowler Steve Pavlinko, who has helped me build my ball arsenal. My game improved tremendously over the last two months because of my transition to heavier bowling balls as suggested by one of my advisors, Chesnut Hill College coach Michael Blakeney.
Derby currently works with two strike balls – a Storm Phase III and a Hustle RAP, both of which are 15 pounds and she uses a 15-pound Columbia 300 White Dot for her spare conversion.
The senior now has her sights set on the three-game series school record of 640, which Welling set Jan. 16, 2014. And with so much of the season left, there’s a good chance she’ll get that record too.