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KC Campbell is about to release the ball while helping to lead Seton Hall Prep bowlers while teammate Desi Cavanaugh prepares for his next approach, as the Pirates have been in the process of putting together historic 2023-2024 season which incldues first-ever Group 4 state crown. In bottom photo, surrounding the state championship trophy are, from left, Antonio Taveras, Joey Maiella, Brendan Blaesser, KC Campbell (with NJSIAA trophy), Desi Cavanaugh, Riley Gnecco, Nick Dragone and coach Mike Smircich. (photos are courtesy of SHP)

SHP Bowlers Make History
Winning First Group 4 Title

By Jeff Goldberg

What a tremendous late season stretch it has been for Seton Hall Prep’s outstanding bowling squad!
The Pirates defeated North Brunswick 2-0, Tuesday, Feb. 27, to capture their first-ever NJSIAA Group 4 tournament title at Bowlero in North Brunswick.

SHP was the top seed while North Brunswick was the No. 3 seed. Earlier in the day in the semifinals, the Pirates defeated the Section 1 winner Bergen Tech 2-0.
The Pirate bowlers completed the team season with a 22-1 record and are currently ranked No. 4 in the statewide Top 20.

"It is absolutely unbelievable. Nobody in the state works harder than us,” said SHP head coach Mike Smircich. “We grinded every tournament we played in and every single day.

“This is a special moment and it is special to send KC Campbell out like this. He is without a doubt the greatest bowler in Seton Hall Prep history. KC propelled this program to new heights.”

Campbell, who has helped lead a deep and resilient squad, has been thrilled to be part of such a terrific SHP team.

“It’s just an unbelievable day for this program." Said the senior standout. "It feels good to win for the very first time and it just wasn't me.

“We all bowled well, which is most important!"

The Pirates won game 1 by a large margin but game 2 was a lot closer. Campbell shot a 514 series (267-247) while sophomore Riley Gnecco shot a 389 series (191, 198), junior Nicholas Dragone finished with a 387 series (132, 255), Desi Cavanaugh tallied a 358 series (216, 142), and fellow senior Antonio Taveras had a 347 series (198, 149).

“Every single guy stepped up today,” added Smircich. “They all contributed in a big way. If one guy was down, someone else picked him up.

“It was a huge effort with everyone and of course we were led by KC."

On Saturday morning, Feb. 24, the Pirates captured their sixth sectional title defeating Bayonne 2-0 also at Bowlero. They were led by Campbell-454, Gnecco-436, Taveras-415, Cavanaugh-397, and Dragone-391.

SHP also won the Essex County Team Tournament along with the Battle at Bristol Tournament in Pennsylvania. In the ECT at North Arlington Lanes, the Pirates totaled 3,297 pins to Montclair's 2,910 and third place Belleville finished with 2,710.

Campbell led the Pirates with a 740 3-game series while Taveras bowled a 693, Gnecco-666, Dragone-599, and Cavanaugh-599. They all qualified for the Essex County Individual Tournament the day after the state team finals.

In the ECT, Montclair's Tai Burns captured the tournament individual championship for the second year in a row defeating Taveras 234-211 in the stepladder final. Campbell finished in 3rd place, and Dragone finished fourth. Jackson Cerniglia-Rapavi from Nutley took 5th place.

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Seton Hall Prep's Antonio Taveras selects the ball he will use for a team that has had enormous success this season, including capturing an Essex County Tournament team title in addition to earning first Group 4 state crown. Surrounding the Bristol (Pa.) Tournament trophy also won during this 2023-2024 season are, from left, coach Smircich, Nicholas Dragone, KC Campbell, Desi Cavanaugh, Taveras and Riley Gnecco. (SHP photos)

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