It was a busy weekend for the Saint Ignatius bowling program, but definitely a fun one.
The Wildcats defeated Olmsted Falls on Saturday and hosted another successful edition of the Wildcat Tournament on Sunday.
The Alley Cats showcased the program's talent and depth with some of the best teams from the area present this weekend.
The action began on Sautrday with a tightly contested Greater Cleveland Interscholastic Bowling League (GCIBL) showdown with Olmsted Falls. The Bulldogs gave the Wildcats a great match at Brookgate Lanes, but a hot start by the men of Jim Viets proved to be the difference.
The first game on Saturday might have been the best the Wildcats enjoyed all weekend. And of the individual efforts, Alex Madeja's initial game topped it all. The senior flashed his great talent with an incredible mark of 249. Madeja's confident approach made a huge impact for the Wildcats early on.
Ryan Wallenhorst followed Madeja's lead. The junior tallied a marvelous game of 223, continuing his trend of starting fast. Wallenhost has been great to start matches, collecting strikes by the bunches. He's fun to watch for the Cats.
Noah Virant also performed solidly at the start. The senior knocked down a 181 for the opening game. Ben Gehrlein tabbed a 149 for the opener.
Dylan Huss and Sean Ward joined forces in the first game. Between the two, the Cats penciled in a 177 in the 5th slot for the opening game. In the second game, Ward combined with Gehrlein for a 145.
Madeja again led the way in the second game. The senior tallied a 205, the lone Cat to break a 200. Huss did come close, however, knocking on the door with a 196. Virant (143) and Wallenhorst (124) rounded things out for the men of the blue and gold.
Looking at the team scores for the two games, the Wildcats and Bulldogs split. But the overall advantage went to the Alley Cats, as their 979-803 win in the opening game provided a huge lead to start with. Olmsted Falls' 839-813 win in the second game narrowed the deficit, but not by much.
The Wildcats and Bulldogs split the baker games, as well. Olmsted Falls made up some ground, but not enough to fell the Wildcats.
The Alley Cats tallied a 158 in the first baker to win, before dropping the second with a 147. The Bulldogs edged the Cats in the third baker, 198-191. In the fourth baker contest, a strong effort late by the Wildcats led to a 191-183 conquest.
The Wildcats walked away with the scratch advantage at 1,791-1,642, earning the OHSAA victory to advance to 2-1 on the season.
Meanwhile, the JV and JV+ squads performed admirably. Larry McGarry III and Andrew Fornadel led the way on the JV team with two game series of 274 and 265 in a narrow defeat to Olmsted Falls. Robbie Shepherd topped the JV+ team with a 231 series in a loss to Cuyahoga Heights.
The fun continued on Sunday at Rollhouse Lanes in Parma. The annual Wildcat Tournament, put on with the leadership of Dennis "DJ" Assaff, is always a success. Teams always have fun with great competition (and a tasty spread).
The Wildcats performed well as a team in the first three games. Gehrlein enjoyed a great effort, looking strong in knocking down strikes, including one run of 5 in a row. Wallenhorst also looked dominant in turn, putting together quite an impressive stretch. Madeja was his usual outstanding self, throwing the ball with authority. Huss, Virant, and Ward also contributed in major ways.
At the end of the three games, the Wildcats sat in sixth place with a total pinfall of 2,445. With two teams knocking at the door behind them to move up, the Wildcats needed strong baker games to remain in sixth. The top eight would advance to the playoffs.
In the first two bakers, the Wildcats combined for a 353. And in the third game, the Alley Cats continued to take care of business. With the strong effort in the bakers, the Wildcats hung onto the No. 6 spot, clinching a place in the playoffs.
Ashland confronted Saint Ignatius in the opening round, to be decided by a best-of-three baker game.
The Arrows won the opening baker, placing the pressure squarely on the Wildcats. Entering the 10th frame of the second game, Saint Ignatius needed a strong effort to stay alive. Cool as the other side of the pillow, Gehrlein knocked down three strikes in a row to force a third and deciding baker game.
Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the Arrows were not to be denied in the third baker game. Ashland conquered the hosts to move on in the playoffs, forcing the Cats to sit and watch the remainder of the tourney.
The JV Cats did not advance to the playoffs, but JV players Alex Vacca and Larry McGarry III get credit for having nice days for the Wildcats.
In the end, Fairport Harbor defeated Ashland for the boys' trophy. On the girls' side, Kenston bested Austintown Fitch for the gold hardware.
While the Wildcats did not win, Gehrlein did get a trophy for his laudable efforts. The junior earned third place as an individual, posing for pictures with the other top finishers at the end of the day.
Plenty of thank you's are in order for helping the Wildcat Classic to go smoothly, and for helping the SIBN to broadcast much of it. First and foremost, Dennis Assaff deserves plenty of kudos for running a great show. DJ is a great guy, and few run a tournament better than him. Jim Viets and Chris Nagy also deserve praise for always being helpful and forthcoming – they're great to work with. And last but not least, the parents deserve a round of thanks for volunteering to help in any way needed. The Saint Ignatius bowling community is blessed to have so many dedicated parents.
As for the Alley Cats, they're back in action next week. The Wildcats will duel Padua in a GCIBL contest at Spins Bowl in Independence on Saturday at 9 am.