John Plunkett of St. Dominic after he releases the ball...

John Plunkett of St. Dominic after he releases the ball at the line during the CHSAA boys bowling individual state tournament at Babylon Lanes on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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.”

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