By Eddie Dwyer
From the Sectional Championship run in 2011, Chris Thom's drive to the State Tournament and the "spare" frustration of an otherwise marvelous winter in 2016, the Saint Ignatius Bowling Team has left it all on the lanes throughout Ohio.
Here is a look at some of the memorable moments by the program affectionately known as "The Alley Cats."
ALLEY 'CATS CAPTURE THEIR FIRST OHSAA SECTIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP!
Congratulations go out to coach John Kastanis and the Saint Ignatius bowling team for bringing home what Saint Ignatius has labeled as the program's first sectional championship.
Individual sectional champion Chris Dokler showed the way on the lanes at Brunswick Zone by splattering the pins for a 716. Chris Thom rolled a 667 (fifth place), Andy Maykut and Ray Schaefer each knocked down a 599 morning, and Matt Eaton turned in a 543 effort.
Coach Kastanis' Alley 'Cats averaged over 230 in six baker games and drew the praise of the tournament director for their outstanding performance.
Again, congratulations to the Alley 'Cats on their record roll.
SENIOR CHRIS THOM WILL REPRESENT THE ALLEY 'CATS IN COLUMBUS.
CHRIS THOM BOUND FOR THE STATE TOURNAMENT LANES: Although the Wildcats did not qualify for states as a team during Sunday's district bowling tournament at Rebman Lanes in Lorain County, senior Chris Thom did finish second overall with a 255-246-214. That effort sends Chris to Saturday's state tournament as an individual competitor.
Chris finished 24th out of the 117 young men competing at the 2011Boys State Bowling Tournament in Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, located on South High Street in the State Capital. His scores were 179, 202, 216 (597).
A special group for a special new head coach
North Olmsted, Ohio - Led by their fabulous senior foursome of Captain Gianni Schaefer, Ralph Deadwyler, Cedric Crawford and Austin Venczel, young leaders who exemplify Saint Ignatius' motto of "Men for Others," the Alley 'Cats made a gallant charge in the Baker Games portion of Sunday'sSectional Tournament before finishing in fourth place, just 14 pins shy of the third and final qualifying spot for the OHSAA District at Roseland Lanes in Bedford.
In a sport that Schaefer described as unforgiving, Coach Jim Viets' gifted and team-first Keglers had too many splits in the early going, points they just couldn't entirely make up despite the strong showing in the Baker Games.
Qualifying out of Buckeye Lanes were Elyria, St. Edward and North Olmsted. North Olmsted's final total was 3,534 and the Alley 'Cats were right behind with a total of 3,520. Saint Ignatius had a Bakers Games total of 1,079
Also earning a spot at next Sunday's District Tournament were the three highest individual competitors from non-qualifying teams - Scott McKee from the Olmsted Falls Bulldogs (a 578 series), Brandon Jacinto from Lorain High School (a 560 series) and McKee's teammate Colin Kuchenmeister (a 552 series).
"It's just so cool because we had four seniors, myself and the three others, who went from freshman year all the way to senior year," Schaefer said. "We grew together and as team we were put together well. Today we fell short, but throughout the season we were strong. We took trophies and everything in our league. You throw a good ball and it end's up a split, it's tough right now."
Despite losing four exceptional seniors, Coach Viets is confident he will have a solid nucleus to work with in 2016-17, including members of this season's talented Junior Varsity Team.
"Because of different substitutions we only had one guy bowl a 510 (a three-game total) today and that was Anthony Doran," Coach Viets said. "Our high game was probably Cedric (Crawford) at 185."
Coach Viets also pointed out that Saint Ignatius had seven splits in its first two frames.
"When we go into these tournaments, spares are critical," Coach Viets said. "You can't give away any spares. You win with spares. Every pin adds up."
Coach Viets said his program has a lot of talent, that he could have put anyone of his eight Wildcats out there competing on Sunday. "It was a fun season and a good ride," he said. "But 14 pins, it hurts."
Ralph Deadwyler, who was recently honored as Saint Ignatius' Student Athlete of the Week, said he and his teammates will always be "brothers" and men for others, and that is what he will take from the 2015-16 season and the past four years, a special and permanent bond.
And now, it is up to the next senior group to lead, either by word or action, the team known around the halls of Cleveland's Jesuit Preparatory School as The Alley 'Cats.
COACH VIETS' ALLEY 'CATS ADD THEIR NAME TO SAINT IGNATIUS' PAST HONORS IN THE HISTORIC GREATER CLEVELAND INTERSCHOLASTIC BOWLING LEAGUE SCRATCH CHAMPIONSHPS.
2015-16 Scratch Champions - The Saint Ignatius Wildcats.
After a five-year reign by the Rhodes Rams, Saint Ignatius won the league's scratch championship in 1979, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2001, the season of 2012-13 and the season of 2015-16.
BEST MOTTO BY A SAINT IGNATIUS BOWLING TEAM
"We strike when you are looking" - The 2002 Keglers.of Coach Tony Orlikowski
RESILIENT. AND DARN GOOD
After losing the first game by 60 pins to Midpark, the 2001 'Cats rallied to win the next two games by a combined 170 pins to clinch the Greater Cleveland Interscholastic League Scratch Championship. A week after that season was completed, the annual "Grudge Match" with St. Edward took place and Saint Ignatius went on a strike-fest. Almost everyone on the team bowled a 600 series in a lane dusting of the Eagles.
The 2000 Scratch Champions featured Chris Brown, who won the prestigious Greater Cleveland Interscholastic League's Beck Award for his prowess on the lanes, his sportsmanship and leadership.