Storied Memphis high school bowling program rolling to state championships

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In the bowling arena in Tennessee, there is St. Benedict – and then there is everyone else.

The storied program is rolling toward yet another state title, building on a legacy and getting help from a professional along the way.

In the Mid-South, you don’t hear much about high-school bowling. And that doesn’t sit right with Nathan King, a 200-plus bowler, who is quick to show off his two state championship rings.

"We work so hard for what we do,” King said. “We work very hard to get to the level we are and to have the averages we have."

The Eagles’ program, now led by Deacon Jeff Drzycimski, has made it to the state tournament each of the last 16 years.

Trophies and rings have become the norm – four boys’ titles and 7 girls’ championships in that time frame.

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"It's literally a dynasty in the state,” said Drzycimski. “This is a storied program. Lots of victories and lots of runner's up."

Alexa Pangonas has been a major part of this year's success and the run up to another state title.

This is only her second season, and after a runner up finish last year, she's looking for a ring of her own.

“We are definitely a family,” Pangonas said. “This program is so well driven and we are so dedicated to this sport."

Despite the storied legacy, the Eagles are always looking for an edge. This season, they found it on the sidelines.

PBA professional Tommy Martin – who's in the Memphis Area USBC Hall of Fame – has lent his experience and knowledge of the game, taking even this program to another level.

"Never go in thinking you are going to win,” said Martin. “You go in making sure the other team will have to beat you. You can only control you."

But it's not the hardware and rings that Drzycimski is most proud of. It's the young people.

"Of all the winning and the championships, it’s not people who are great at bowling. It's great people who bowl,” Drzycimski said.

St. Benedict will head to the state championships on Jan. 17 in Smyrna, Tenn.

The bowling tournament will take place in Smyrna Bowling Center. The facility covers 50,000 square feet with 52 lanes.