By John Bassetti
It’ll be a Wayne Webb’s weekend for four area boys teams, one girls squad and one individual when the state bowling tournament is held at Columbus Bowl.
Beginning this morning, 16 boys teams and 16 individuals will converge on Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl .
The Austintown Fitch, Struthers, Boardman and Champion boys will be in action at 11 a.m., while Hubbard High’s girls and Liberty’s Marissa Simon compete on Saturday morning.
While Struthers is making its fourth straight state appearance, Fitch has the most experience at state tournaments.
Fitch’s boys have only missed three times, so this is the Falcons’ 10th year there. The boys were back-to-back state champs in 2001-02 and 2002-03.
The current boys coach is Dino Balkan, who coached Fitch’s girls team the previous five years.
Throughout the week, the teams took advantage of knowing the lane pattern that bowlers will face at Wayne Webb’s.
“The shot was available on the website, so we knew the pattern and tried to get it set up,” said Balkan, who had the pattern simulated at Wedgewood for practice.
The teams also had practice at Wayne Webb’s on Thursday.
Balkan said the boys need to listen to what the coaches are telling them.
“I think they’ll do well. Hopefully, they don’t lose their nerves, but I think they’re relaxed, they’re ready for the challenge,” he said.
Fitch’s lineup includes juniors Dwayne Learn Jr., Chris Mauro and John Greenlund and sophomores Kyle Sharisky and Kyle Condrick. Corey Cox is also a possible starter or he could be the first bowler called in.
“All six have about the same averages and talent and are interchangeable,” Balkan said.
Junior Tim Ponzi and sophomore Matt Cox round out the squad.
“If things go right, but not perfect, then they know what to do to make it better next year, but I think we have a shot. I think one of our teams will do very well down there.”
All four area teams finished behind district champion Mentor.
Struthers coach Bob Eisenbraun Jr. is expecting big things from his Wildcats.
“We didn’t bowl as well as we could have [at districts], but qualifying to state is wonderful. Hopefully, when we get down there, we’ll bowl a little bit better and bowl to win a state title,” he said.
The Wildcats are led by seniors Corey Bayus, Nick Gigax and Dave Thomas; juniors Mike Donofrio and Alex Cifra, sophomores Dan Diloreto and Dan Demyan and freshman Jay King.
Bayus was state champion in 2011 with a 697 series.
Champion is a first-time state qualifier under coach Bryan Gill, with senior Zach Richards and sophomore Danny Simmons leading the way. Simmons had the Kent district’s sixth-best set of 641.
Other top Golden Flashes are senior Trevor Foster and junior Eric Ferraro, while freshman Jared Gould and sophomores Zach Zigmont and Justin Cox round out the squad.
Champion, too, was able to sample the oil pattern earlier this week.
“It gave us a fresh look at the pattern and what we need to do to make some strikes,” Gill said.
The coach noted that his Golden Flashes exceeded expectations at the district.
“They came together as a team, with some [individuals] picking up and filling a void to help others.”
Boardman coach Al Dohar’s Spartans are anchored by Jimmy Tancabel, who will be a four-year letterman, and senior Zach Warchol, who will be a three-year letterwinner.
Overall, Boardman is young.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a little bit more learning experience this year and have bigger things to come,” Dohar said.