John Plunkett had some highs and some lows during his bowling season.
Despite some late-season struggles, the St. Dominic junior had an inkling of how things might turn out heading into Saturday’s state CHSAA individual boys bowling championship at Babylon Lanes.
“On Thursday I had practice and bowled exceptionally well,” said Plunkett, who had a 1,145 series. “It gave me a lot of confidence coming into today [Saturday].”
Plunkett outlasted 23 other bowlers, but ultimately fell to Mike Weber of St. Joseph’s (Buffalo) in the championship round, 259-183, and finished second. Weber had a 1,151 series, the highest of the day.
The championship consisted of the top 25 CHSAA bowlers in the state. Each individual threw a total of five games, and the top five advanced to a step-ladder final. The final began with the fifth-highest scorer matched up against the fourth-highest scorer. The winner then took on the third-best bowler, and the process continued until there was only one person remaining.
Holy Trinity’s Gerard Gagliano earned the fifth seed after finishing with a 1,098 series. He faced off against fourth-seeded Marcus Alaimo of Chaminade, who threw a 1,099 series. Gagliano and Alaimo traded strikes throughout, but Gagliano was able to move on to the next round as he defeated Alaimo, 237-235.
“My junior season has been great,” Alaimo said. “We won the team championship at Chaminade, I was the playoff MVP and I came in the top five at the states.”
Gagliano went head-to-head against the third seed, Harris Mirza (Molloy), and was defeated, 234-120.
It was a superb run for Gagliano, who had trouble breaking 100 when he first began bowling four years ago as a freshman.
“It’s been pretty treacherous, I mean you take three steps forward and you have to go five steps back,” Gagliano said of his journey. “You improve and you have problems, it’s always back-and-forth. You’re never perfect, but there are always different ways to get better.”
Gagliano finished fourth in the competition and had the high-game of the day with a 268 in Game 4.
“I have worked with a lot of different people who have helped me greatly with learning where I need to stand and how to throw the ball,” Gagliano said. “I was shocked that I had the highest game. It’s pretty surreal.”
After Mirza bested Gagliano, his next opponent was Plunkett.
Plunkett got off to a rough start, as he had back-to-back open frames in the early going.
“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Plunkett said. “I changed my positioning, started pivoting more, kept my arm straight and began striking.”
Plunkett was able to bounce back and rolled a 193 to defeat Mirza, who had a 176.
Plunkett averaged a 193 during the regular season, the 16th best in the state in the CHSAA.
“At the beginning of the season I did really well, but then I started going downhill. I barely made it to the states, too,” Plunkett said with a laugh. “Overall, I’m really happy with the second-place finish.”