By Greg Gulas
Three area teams have qualified for the Division II boys state bowling tournament Friday at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl.
The teams are district champion Girard, Liberty and Lakeview.
There were no area individual qualifiers from the recently completed district tourney, which was held last weekend at Wedgewood Lanes in Austintown.
Girard (2,737) held on by 21 pins to claim the program’s first ever district title over Parma Padua Franciscan (2,716). Liberty (2,623) was 114 pins off the pace to finish third while Lakeview (2,682) finished 92 pins ahead of Peninsula Woodridge (2,590) to claim the fourth and final qualifying spot.
“We weren’t in front after our first game and our second Baker game wasn’t great, but we were able to take the lead and never gave it up,” Indians head coach Pete Barta said. “I got them together after that second Baker game and was able to rally the troops.
“To win state would be great, but in order to do so we must do what we’ve done all year long and that is to remain focused and pick up our spares.”
Liberty’s Andrew Everly (198-227-214, 639) took the individual district championship, teammate Alex Hlaudy (221-172-221, 614) was third with Girard’s Donny Bishop (194-222-188, 604), the reigning two-time All-American Conference White Tier Most Valuable Player finishing fourth.
Add Lakeview’s Connor Pawlowsky (217-186-199, 602) who was sixth and teammate Seth Dunn (219-211-171, 601) who finished seventh, and Girard’s Jonathan Moore (174-226-200, 600) who was eighth and the area copped all but two of the top eight slots.
“We also won sectionals for the second straight year and at the G-Men Classic in Garrettsville, set the all-time scoring record with 4,820 so we’re definitely peaking at the right time,” Barta added. “Donny is a captain and has been solid all year. Logan Kondzich is also a captain and they are our cornerstones.”
Bishop, who averages 217, finished second overall last year at state with a 684 roll, was 13 pins away from tying and 14 from overtaking eventual champion Luke Russell of Urbana.
“The goal is to win it all as a team and I’ll let the rest fall where it may,” Bishop stated. “If I win, and I will try my hardest, then that’s a bonus. I really think we have the type of team that can win it all, but we’ll have to cover our spares. More importantly, we must keep our heads and cannot get too high or too low.”
The Indians are making their second consecutive trip to state under Barta, looking to improve on last year’s ninth-place finish.
“We cannot leave any pins. It’s spares first and the strikes will come,” added Kondzich, who averages 202.
Rounding out the Indians’ squad is Brett Zeigler (185), Nathan Moore (182), Justin Barnett (180) and Dylan Puz (175).
The Leopards are making their second ever state trip (they finished fifth overall in 2007), went just 7-7 overall this year and finished fourth at sectionals.
“Hopefully we can just by-pass second and go right to first,” smiled head coach Mike Mikulich, who is in his fifth-year at the helm. “We’ll be going up against the very best in the state, but we have a few players that I would put up against anyone at the state level. If we didn’t qualify as a team, we already knew that we had two individual qualifiers in Andrew and Alex.”
Everly averages 213 while Hlaudy carries a 206 average.
“This was my last chance to get to state so it’s a very special for me,” Everly said. “If we stay clean, don’t miss spare opportunities and strike a lot, then we should be in the mix.”
Hlaudy just started bowling competitively his freshman year.
“We always talk about the journey and district kept our season alive. We caught fire at the right time and hopefully we can stay hot at state this Friday,” Hlaudy said.
Other Liberty team members include James Spisak, Nick Spisak, Brennhan Romain, Jason Ngo and Virgis Vinson.
In addition to Pawlosky, who is just a freshman and Dunn, a junior, the Bulldogs will rely on Tristan Currence (225-159-129, 513), who finished 32nd at district, Michael Altier (151-179-164, 494), who was in a three-way tie for 43rd and Chris Altier (163-154-155, 472), who was 52nd at district.
Rounding out the squad is Jonathan Olson, Nate Ulrich and Evan Pirtz.
Lakeview head coach Jason Smith did not return a call seeking comment.
Action gets underway at 10:30 a.m