POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - With an audience roaring for him as he signed autographs and posed for pictures, Anthony Neste, sporting a pink Mohawk, looked and played the part of rock star.
The gregarious Comsewogue senior ended his high school career on the highest of highs yesterday, bowling his first 300 game in helping lead the Suffolk team to third place in the Sectional all-star tournament.
The Suffolk boys fought back from ninth in Game 2 to finish 48 pins out of first. Section I claimed the gold medals, toppling 6,580 pins, but Neste stole the show. It was only the seventh 300 in state tournament history and the first since Floyd's Lou Giordani did it two years ago.
Adding to the feat was that it came on the wooden lanes at Mardi Bob, which gave most bowlers trouble this weekend.
"The adrenaline rush and all the fans, it was amazing," said Neste, who was perfect in Game 4 of a 1,242 series. "I threw the first strike and from there, I was making adjustments with my coach. And the place just got louder and louder."
Eric Sorenson, Suffolk co-manager and Comsewogue coach, called it "surreal . . . one of the greatest moments in my career."
Teammate John Knieriemen (East Islip), who has 30 300 games, said he gets excited watching anyone get on such a roll.
Neste, who wore an all-pink ensemble (belt, sunglasses, shoelaces) to match the pink Section XI T-shirts, saved a pin from his 12th strike and was awarded a trophy and a commemorative ball.
"What a way to end it," he sighed as his mother smiled. "I can now go to college and say I have a 300."
Ed Tuskan (East Islip) rolled a 1,268, Knieriemen a 1,261 and Elliot Jones (Riverhead) a 1,259.
"I've been playing for him for three years and he's a friend of the family," an emotional Michael Bukovsky said. "He was planning on coming up with us. He would've been here for the whole weekend."
"He taught me to be a better teammate and to always keep my head up," said Bukovsky, who will attend today's funeral. "I wanted to bowl in his honor. My first game in practice on Tuesday, I bowled a 300 game for him. I was hoping to do it here again."