Seth Braum had found himself in this position before.
The stakes were far higher this time, however.
It was two years ago that the Wantagh bowler qualified for the state championships as a sophomore. Unfortunately for Braum and his fellow qualifiers, the moment never came to fruition as the COVID-19 pandemic led to the event’s cancellation.
After falling short of securing another berth last season, Braum broke through in his final opportunity on Saturday afternoon, as he rolled a 1,403 en route to winning the Nassau boys bowling individual championship at AMF Garden City Lanes.
For the first time since joining the varsity team in eighth grade, Braum now gets to live out his dream of competing for a state title.
"I’ve wanted to go to States throughout high school," Braum said. "I wasn’t able to go two years ago, so it’s great this time to be able to go. My high school season was on the line today, and I came through."
Saturday’s other top six finishers, Phil Macchietto of Mineola (1,336), Bethpage’s Brian Lunetto (1,317), Billy Grotheer of Mineola (1,293), Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK’s Tyler Ciulla (1,287) and Bellmore-Merrick’s Justin Hough (1,282) will also comprise the State All-Star team and compete for the title at AMF Strike ‘N Spare Lanes in Syracuse from March 11-13.
Facing immense pressure in what could have potentially been his high school bowling finale, Braum said his winning performance boiled down to keeping things as simple as possible.
"I kind of just tried to hit my mark every time," Braum said. "Taking one shot at a time and making my spares. Just keep it nice and easy. I had a game plan with the bowling balls I wanted to use and I just stuck with it and it worked."
Wantagh coach James Polo said Game 2, which he always emphasizes to his team, was ultimately the difference-maker for Braum. With a 279, he bowled the day’s highest game.
Polo also commended Braum for his ability to remain in the moment and come out on top.
"Seth had an unbelievable individual performance," Polo said. "He had a specific mindset and executed the plan to a tee. He really deserves this. He works his tail off and this is his pride and passion. I’m so proud of him."