It was a rather harsh way to get bounced into the consolation bracket, but Carlos Forero found a way to make the most of it.
Shaking off Wednesday’s opening-round loss at the state bowling finals — despite a 243 in the third and deciding game — the Killian junior roared back with nothing worse than a 214 as he stayed alive through three elimination rounds to survive into a second day.
“That made me focus even more every time I threw the ball,” said Forero, one of just six boys left standing in the individual competition.
His reward: A rematch with Daniel Watkinson of Palm Bay Bayside, who not only edged Forero with a 245 in their rubber game but rolled a 300 in a third-game decider in the next round.
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Krystina Nealon of Coral Glades also will have to take the tougher route in defense of her girls’ individual title, sweeping through the first two rounds until getting derailed by a strong outing from Haylee Boyle of Port Orange Spruce Creek.
Boyle opened their meeting with five consecutive strikes in a 245-203 win, then strung together six in a row on the way to a 235-216 second game that completed the sweep.
Nealon, who next faces Brooke Bonaiuto of Palm Bay Heritage, now will have to survive two additional rounds to get back to the final. Individual competition resumes Thursday at 10 a.m.
“I’m just getting more confident every time,” said Forero, who throws a unique two-handed delivery that drew plenty of buzz among spectators and fellow competitors.
It would have been easy to get deflated after Forero’s opening clash against Watkinson, who won the first game 247-215. Forero squared the match with a 246-210 win, setting up a classic decider.
The duo exchanged strikes for the first four frames, before Watkinson threw a fifth in a row and Forero left himself a 7-10 split. He picked off one pin on his second ball, following up with two spares.
But Watkinson never left an open frame, holding off Forero’s four consecutive strikes in frames 8-10.
“You just can’t give up,” Forero said. “If you miss a shot, just overcome it.”
Forero then swept Ryan Hernandez in two, holding off Hernandez’s pressure down the stretch for a 234-230 win in Game 2.
“That was impressive,” said Hernandez, who qualified 15th and fell to Sean Wilcox of Lake Brantley in the opening round. “But it doesn’t matter where you [finish], it’s about having fun and giving the best you can.”
Forero then swept through Ben Hardin (Tampa Prep) and Kevin Fischer (Winter Park) in the next elimination rounds, ending his day with seven consecutive strikes.
In the team competition, none of South Florida’s entrants from Miami-Dade or Broward County managed to get to Day 2.
The Coral Springs Charter boys upended fourth seed Rockledge in their opening match in the 16-team bracket, but then ran into a pair of buzzsaws in Oviedo Hagarty and St. Lucie West Centennial. Neither team bowled worse than 181 against the Panthers.
“They just wouldn’t miss,” coach Nelson Martin said. “My guys wanted to do it, but physically they just ran into two stronger teams.”
Miami Ferguson also qualified at No.11, but went out in two straight. Even so, it was better than last year’s performance, when they finished qualification at No.17 — one spot out of getting into the knockout rounds.
“This is a special group of kids,” said coach Diane Coe, noting three of her starters had never picked up a bowling ball until July. “My [Nos.] 4 and 5 came back, and we picked up a whole new team. Isn’t that amazing?”
Ferguson’s Allain Larroche was the hard-luck case at No.17 in individual qualifying – five pins from making the bracket.
In the girls’ team competition, Coral Glades was the highest finisher in the qualifying round at No.22 – six spots out of making the 16-team bracket. Coral Springs Charter was next, with Ferguson, Terra Institute, Mourning and Hialeah-Miami Lakes farther down the list.