The pressure was gone. The title was in the bag.
St. John the Baptist senior Josh Laskowski had put a wrap on the first boys bowling title in Cougars history. All he had to do was finish the 10th and final frame of the afternoon.
He turned around to see his coach, Bob Hamilton in tears. But they were tears of joy as Hamilton knew Laskowski had clinched the individual title.
Laskowski finished like a true champion. He rolled three straight strikes in the final frame to finish with a 248 and win the crown in the New York State Catholic High School Athletic Association at Classic Lanes in Buffalo late Saturday night.
Top-seeded Mike Weber of St. Joseph’s (Buffalo) rolled a split in the ninth frame and finished a distant second to Laskowski.
“I’m really happy,” said Laskowski, the fifth seed. “It was great to represent my school.”
After finishing in the top 10 last season at states, he advanced to the stepladder bracket and ran the table.
Laskowski was in upset mode. During the four-game block, he won three times against higher-ranked opponents before bowling for the title against the top seed.
“Last year’s championship tournament was held on Long Island,” he said. “But this time around was a different experience. Coming up to Buffalo, I got the full experience competing and representing Long Island.”
Hamilton said his captain has made strides both in and away from the bowling alley.
“He’s a quiet young man but he can take control as a captain,” Hamilton said. “I gave him a leadership role rather than telling the younger ones what to do, he helps out. He’s like a second coach on the team.”
After averaging a 195 last season, Laskowski improved to a 200 this year. He credits his friends, family and Hamilton to his bowling accomplishments.
“He kept giving me pointers,” Laskowski said. “I would move up to make sure I would always be able to finish my throws and get a strike and hit the pocket perfectly.”