ORLANDO -- What started as a rough day for local teams competing at the Florida High School Athletic Association state bowling tournament on Wednesday ended in euphoria for one competitor.
Miami Christian’s Alex Yaniz survived an elimination match against Island Coast’s Tim Sipper that came down to the final roll of the ball at Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando.
After entering the 10th frame of the deciding best-of-3 match in a tie, Yaniz hit a spare and added nine more pins to his total. Sipper answered by knocking down a strike on his first roll in the frame but went on to leave one of three pins standing on his last attempt to give Yaniz the decisive 248-247 edge.
A nearby crowd of supporters erupted in cheers for Yaniz as Sipper fell to the alley’s approach and buried his head in disappointment.
“I’ve worked all summer for this moment, and I’m glad my family and teammates are hear to see this,” Yaniz said. “That’s all that matters to me.”
Yaniz faces another elimination game Thursday at 10:05 a.m. against Evan Barenecky.
Ferguson Senior High’s Richard Pinero earned the 12th seed in the tournament but was bounced from the field of 16 after dropping his first two matches.
Ferguson missed out on advancing as a team with a combined score of 3,634, coming in just behind Rockledge (3,678) at 17th overall.
Miami Christian placed 21st as a team.
The top 16 teams and individuals from the morning’s qualifying phase advanced to the championship bracket.
Yaniz, a junior competing in his first state tournament, averaged 230 over the past month and bowled the third-best qualifying score (970) to start the day.
But his opponent in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament was tough to overcome as he dropped games of 246-179 and 259-234.
“It just made me want it more,” Yaniz said.
“Knowing that if I lost again that it was over, I just had to mentally erase everything and put everything aside and let my talent do the talking.”