All good things must come to an end, but even in defeat Carlos Forero didn’t really want to pack up his bowling gear.
“I was doing so good. I just want to keep on going,” the Killian High junior said Wednesday after his remarkable charge through the state bowling championships came up one round short of reaching the boys’ final.
“I wasn’t expecting myself to do this kind of stuff, but I remained focused and I kept on telling myself I have a chance. Never give up.”
Merritt Island’s Brandon Chase bumped Forero out of a spot in the final, using seven consecutive strikes to prevail 244-214 in a decisive third game.
Nonetheless, Forero’s third-place finish was the highest by a boys’ bowler from Miami-Dade or Broward counties since Andrew Koff (Gulliver Prep) followed his 2006 state title with runner-up honors the next two years.
Krystina Nealon’s quest to repeat as girls’ individual champion also came to an early end. The Coral Glades senior wound up fourth, swept in the consolation semifinal by eventual champion Leanne Vastbinder of Winter Park Circle Christian.
In both games, Nealon left a 10-pin standing in the latter frames that wound up deciding a tense matchup.
“Those two 10-pins will come back to haunt me,” said Nealon, whose scores of 214 and 226 couldn’t stave off elimination.
Forero, who didn’t get past the qualifying stage at last year’s state tournament, drew plenty of interest at Boardwalk Bowl with the success of his two-handed delivery. Holding the ball low to start his approach, Forero keeps his left hand over the ball as he twists his torso and releases with massive spin. He learned the technique at age 4 from his father.
“Even with those high [revolutions], he can control the power,” said his father, also named Carlos. “For him, it’s natural.”
The younger Forero had been forced to work his way through the consolation bracket after falling 245-243 in the decisive third game of his opening match against Daniel Watkinson of Palm Bay Bayside.
This time Forero left no doubt, starting his day with eight consecutive strikes on the way to a 268-224 first-game win. He completed the sweep in similar fashion, with seven strikes in the final six frames of a 245-192 win.
Nealon may have a tougher time shaking off her elimination. She held a two-pin lead over Vastbinder through eight frames of their first game before her 10-pin troubles began.
Trying to convert the spare in the ninth frame, Nealon watched in dismay as her ball dived into the gutter just ahead of the pin.
“Gut-wrenching,” Coral Glades coach Kristen Garcia said. “My stomach just dropped.”
Vastbinder closed out a 223-214 win and followed that with a 244-226 victory.