Heading into the district tournament, Cuyahoga Falls bowling coach Tim Wiant wasn't certain what to expect from his boys squad.
"They had the mental capability of getting out. I knew they could do it," Wiant said. "In my heart, though, I was thinking they were going to take 12th or 13th. There were some seriously good teams there."
Wiant probably has never been happier to be wrong about his predictions.
Falls rallied from a slow start to take sixth place at the Division I district tournament Feb. 26 at Hall of Fame Lanes in Canton, snagging the final state qualifying spot.
Falls finished with 3,683 pins, finishing 113 pins ahead of Stow-Munroe Falls to take sixth. Nordonia won the tournament with 3,857 pins, while Mentor (3,840) Alliance (3,694), Akron Springfield (3,693) and Boardman (3,693) also qualified for states.
Falls earned its second trip to the state tournament in school history and first since 2009.
"It was awesome," Wiant said. "Coach Kelly Frankina, I've got to give her a lot of credit for getting the boys team ready. To have this team be in the state tournament, I'm ecstatic."
Falls got off to a bit of slow start, rolling an 820 in first game, but after Falls rolled an 878 in the second game, Wiant had a good feeling.
"When they bowled the second game. they popped up to tie with Stow," Wiant said. "I thought, if they keep it up, they have a legitimate chance to go."
Falls did keep it up, as the Black Tigers rolled a 922 in the third game. Falls sat tied with Stow in fourth place with 2,620 pins heading into the Baker games.
"There were a couple of Baker games where I was saying 'Come on, get it together,'" Wiant said. "They did get it together when we rolled a 200."
In the end, Falls rolled a total of 1,063 pins in the Baker games. The Black Tigers finished just 11 pins behind Alliance in third place, but had a 113-pin cushion over Stow in seventh, after the Bulldogs finished with a 950 in the Baker games.
"They all stepped up," Wiant said. "It wasn't one person."
As has been the case all season, senior JP Frankina was Falls' top bowler. Frankina rolled a three-game series score of 551 (168-179-204), which was good for 19th place in the individual race.
Falls also saw junior Justin Moyer roll a 521 series (158-187-176), while junior James Vanscoy rolled a 520 (178-199-143).
The Black Tigers got games of 162 and 139 from sophomore Justin Drayer, while James Sherwood rolled games of 174 and 226.
Falls also had one female bowler at compete at districts. Junior Nicole Hannan looked like she had a shot to advance after rolling a 204 in the second game, but she finished with a 511 series (144-204-163) and finished in 19th place. Kailey Bonniwell of Massillon Jackson earned the final individual qualifying spot with a 541 series.
The Division I state boys bowling tournament will take place March 11 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl. Wiant said he knows anything can happen at states.
"I would love to take it, but there's some awesome competition down there," Wiant said. "My goal would just be to go into the playoffs. To get into the top five would be awesome. I know that's optimistic, but I've been optimistic all season."
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