Even Cuyahoga Falls boys bowling coach Tim Wiant admitted the fact his team reached the Division I state tournament was a mild upset.

Once teams get to states, however, unexpected and even magical things can take place.

For the Black Tiger boys -- in particular junior Justin Moyer -- that's exactly what happened.

Moyer won the Division I boys individual bowling title March 11 at Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl, as he put up the highest single-game score in state tournament history with a 298.

Moyer and senior teammate JP Frankina, who finished eighth, each earned All-Ohio honors.

Falls ended up finishing fifth in the Division I team race, as the Black Tigers lost to Cincinnati Oak Hills in four Baker games in the first elimination round.

"I'm still on cloud 27," Wiant said. "That was awesome. I couldn't believe it. These boys, all of them came together. The camaraderie they have has carried them through. I was totally impressed with our guys."

Moyer said he was surprised by Falls' results as well.

"I did not expect us to do that," Moyer said. "Everyone was expecting us to just go out there and finish last. We ended up giving it everything we had. We were just having fun out there, trying to do our best."

Led by Moyer and Frankina's efforts, Cuyahoga Falls finished first in the team qualifying round with 3,727 pins.

Falls actually sat second behind Centerville after the three regular games, rolling a score of 989 in game one, 1,089 in game two and 986 in game three. Falls trailed Centerville by 93 pins heading into the three Baker games.

However, Falls had the best Baker series of the tournament, rolling a 663 (202-255-206). Falls finished with an 18-pin lead over Centerville and earned the No. 1 seed for the elimination round.

"I was kind of worried about their Baker games coming into it, but they just came together," Wiant said, as he credited assistant coach Kelly Frankina for Falls' success. "She perfectly planned that out on those Baker games."

Moyer had a three huge games to win the individual title. He rolled a 267 in game one, but was that big score was just the beginning."

Wiant noted the entire alley seemed to be watching Moyer and Frankina at the end of game two, as both bowlers had a chance for a 300 game.

"He threw two strikes," Wiant said. "When he threw the last ball, his head dropped because knew he threw it wrong."

"The whole game I wasn't realizing what I was about to do," Moyer said. "It didn't hit me until the ninth frame. I just got very nervous and put it down the middle [on the last ball]."

Meanwhile, Wiant said Frankina got nine pins, converted the spare and then threw a strike on his final ball in the 10th frame to finish with a 289.

Moyer then rolled a 223 in game three to finished with a 788 series. He finished 58 pins ahead of Centerville's Dylan Dobran for the title.

"I figured that I was probably near the top, maybe top three, but there's a lot of good bowlers down there," Moyer said. "It was pretty crazy."

Moyer admitted he was most nervous after it was announced he had won the title.

"I was afraid I was going to have to give a speech or something," Moyer said.

Meanwhile, Frankina tied with Kettering Fairmont's Hunter Schlegel for eighth place with a series of 663 (202-289-172).

"JP has a great day too," Wiant said. "To have eighth and first for the team, oh my goodness."

Falls also got a 594 series (199-193-202) from senior James Sherwood-Engel and a 565 series (183-150-232) from junior James Vascoy. Sophomore Justin Drayer rolled a game of 159 for Falls. Junior Matt Knight also contributed for the Black Tigers.

Wiant said his team had so much momentum, he felt good about winning the state title, until the 45-minute break between the qualifying and elimination rounds happened.

"I really thought that these kids were going to take it. They were on fire," Wiant said. "I hate breaks. I know they have to take them, but were just on fire."

In the elimination round against Cincinnati Oak Hills, the Black Tigers won the first Baker game 192-181, but were edged in game two 208-204.

The third Baker game saw Falls and Oak Hills tie at 203-203, forcing a two-frame tie-breaker. Oak Hills won the tie-breaker 40-29 to take game three, and then put up a big number to win game four 256-225.

"They rolled really well," Wiant said of Oak Hills. "They have a freshman who is their clean up bowler who did great. They were nip and tuck for us. We were thinking 'We got it' and they would just come right back it.

While Frankina and Sherwood-Engle are graduating, Moyer said he believes Falls can make a return Columbus to next year.

"We have a solid four right now," Moyer said. "I think we should be good to get back down there."

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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