Believe it or not, the regular season is now over for the Saint Ignatius bowling program.
Yes, the season sure goes by quick. And if we think that, imagine how fast it flies by for the student-athletes and their parents.
While the Wildcats were not able to defeat Olmsted Falls on Saturday in the Greater Cleveland Interscholastic Bowling League (GCIBL) finale or win the Black & Gold Sectional Warm-up, the Alley Cats did have some fun along the way.
On Saturday, the Wildcats did battle with the Bulldogs of Olmsted Falls, vying for third place. The two teams entered the day tied for the figurative bronze medal.
The Bulldogs started out fast and never looked back, tallying a scratch total of 1,022 in the first game. The Wildcats notched some solid efforts, led by a 177 from Ben Gehrlein. Dylan Huss and Noah Virant also enjoyed solid first games, with a 163 and 160, respectively. Ryan Wallenhorst bowled a 152, while Alex Madeja and Larry McGarry combined for a 138. But despite the Cats' best efforts, they couldn't match the Bulldogs early.
The second game saw an improvement across the board from the Clevelanders. Madeja hit his stride with a 201. Gehrlein rallied for a 196. Huss improved by 18 pins for a 181. Wallenhorst and Virant each did a pin better, with a 153 and 161. But even with a team score of 892, the Cats could not gain any ground.
In the three bakers, the Wildcats notched scores of 157, 176, 172m and 165 for a grand total of 670. The Cats won the third baker game, but this day belonged to Olmsted Falls, as they walked away from Brookgate Lanes with a 2,701-2,352 victory.
The JV and JV+ squads did make the day brighter by ending the regular season with great matches.
Andrew Fornadel anchored the JV squad in a very narrow 2,071-2,053 defeat. The savvy junior crushed it with a 153 in the first game and a 169 in the second for a 322 series. Collin Schram nabbed a 94-138 (232), Gabe Virant stepped up with a 167-124 (291), Alex Vacca tallied a 128-180 (308), and Mason Cook wrapped up a 104-165 (269). Despite the Wildcats' best efforts, they fell just 18 pins short.
Robbie Shepherd led the way for the JV+ squad with a 156-188 (344) series. Connor Kissing rolled a 106-134 (240), Jared Libert penciled in a 119-121 (240), John Luke Eicher plugged a 104-107 (211), and Andrew Metz clubbed an 89-149 (238).
With several varsity players unavailable for Sunday, the Cats would have been shorthanded without the added muscle of JV players Gabe Virant, Alex Vacca, and Robbie Shepherd. All three contributed at the Black & Gold Sectional Warm-up, hosted by Cleveland Heights High School.
The oil pattern caused a slow start for some of the Wildcats. Shepherd, on the other hand, fired out of the gate with fire. The freshman knocked down seven strikes in a row at one point, finishing off his 10th frame in the first game with a turkey. Shepherd tallied a 175 in the opening game.
As it turned out, Shepherd's opening effort led all Wildcats. Noah Virant took runner-up honors with a 168, with Gehrlein nipping at his heels at 156. Gabe Virant and Alex Vacca combined for a 149.
In the second game, Madeja led the way. The senior tallied a 193 in impressive fashion, playing with his trademark smile and enthusiasm. Gehrlein also bowled loose with a 178 in the second game. Vacca bowled his first solo varsity match and did solidly, hitting a 142. Noah Virant and Shepherd finished with scores of 133 for a team tally of 779.
The third game was the Alex Vacca Show. The sophomore caught fire, hitting five strikes in a row. Coach Jim Viets marveled at the show by his young kegler, watching Vacca shine and delight in the success. Vacca closed it out with a strike in the 10th frame, nailing down a 207 for the third game. It was fun to watch Vacca work.
Madeja tabbed a 155 for second on the squad, while Gehrlein hit a 150. Noah Virant notched a 140. Shepherd and Gabe Virant combined for a 128, setting the team score at 780.
In the bakers, the Wildcats rolled solid scores. The men of Ohio City finished the tournament with a seventh-place finish. Fairport Harbor won the tournament, highlighted by a 300 baker game.
The Cats will now have a bit of time off before the GCIBL Individual Tournament on Saturday, February 1 at Rollhouse Wickliffe. Then, it's playoff time with the OHSAA Sectional Tournament in Mentor on Valentine's Day.
In the meantime, the Wildcats will be hard at work to prepare for the postseason.