High school champs crowned in Florida

Crazy hats, painted faces and screaming kids descended upon Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday. And, no, it wasn't to visit that little mouse and his pals.

The Florida High School Athletic Association State Bowling Finals were held at Boardwalk Bowl and more than a thousand spectators were on hand during the two-day competition as the FHSAA crowned team and individual champions.

After four games of qualifying for all team and individuals on Tuesday, the field was cut to the top 16 boys and top 16 girls teams for a double-elimination, Baker format, match play (best of five) bracket. The top 16 individuals in each field also were set into double-elimination match-play (best of three) bracket.

In the boys' team division, Lyman High School of Longwood was the top seed out of qualifying with a 4,181 pinfall total but lost its first match to Deland High School to drop to the consolation bracket. Wekiva would emerge undefeated in the winner's bracket and had to face consolation bracket winner Palm Beach Central for the championship. Palm Beach Central, needing to win twice to claim the title, won the first match 3-1 to force a deciding match then continued its winning ways with a 3-0 victory to take the FHSAA State Bowling Championship boys' title.
On the girls side, Martin County High School earned the top spot after a qualifying total of 3,594. After a loss in its first match on Wednesday, Martin County battled through the consolation bracket to face undefeated Atlantic High School in the championship match. It was a tight match, with Martin County striking out in the ninth and 10th frames of the fourth game to force a match-deciding Game 5. Atlantic High School prevailed in the final game to win the FHSAA State Bowling Championship girls' title.

In the boys' competition, Justin Mandell from Timber Creek High School was the top qualifier with a 986 over four games. Mandall won his two matches on Tuesday but was knocked out on Wednesday by Nicklaus Speanburg of Jupiter High School. Speanburg would go on to defeat Shaefer Shepard of Olympic Heights High School in the championship round, 2-0, for the title.

In the girls' individual competition, Katie Stark of South Lake High School was the high qualifier with a 936 pinfall total. But emerging from the pack to make the title match was No. 4 qualifier Natalie Armstrong of Palm Beach Lakes High School and No. 6 Sara O'Reilly of Martin County High School. O'Reilly took the first game then, needing all three strikes in the 10th for a chance to capture the title, she stepped on the approach and rolled three pocket strikes for a 2-0 victory.

For  complete results from the Florida state tournament, please visit the Florida High School Athletic Association website at fhsaa.org.