Tim Warsinskey, Plain Dealer Reporter, May 07, 2013 6:53 p.m.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- With a smooth release and the right mental approach, Fairport Harbor senior Cody Zalar can be tough to beat.
"He had this uncanny ability to block out all the distractions and just bowl," Skippers coach Jerry Rich said. "At state, it was like any other day."
Low scores at the state tournament this year demonstrated how important that approach can be. Zalar rolled a 209-212-224--645 series, which at first he thought was good enough to be in the top 10, but not great enough to challenge for first.
Turns out, he finished second, and Zalar is The Plain Dealer's Boys Bowler of the Year.
"I knew I bowled pretty good," he said. "I got it to click at the last moment. I didn't think I would finish as high as I did.
"I'm very proud. It's just an amazing feeling."
Zalar averaged 201 and propelled Fairport Harbor to a third-place finish at state, as well as its first district championship, where he had a 665 series. He helped lead the Skippers to numerous tournament titles throughout the season. Rich credited Zalar's leadership on a young team as a key factor.
Zalar, who played a role in getting the program started four years ago, said he likes the legacy he leaves behind.
"This season kind of put us on the map. It was awesome," he said.
School, year: Fairport Harbor, senior.
Notable: He came on strong at the end of the season and was the state tournament runner-up with a 209-212-224--645 series. He led Fairport Harbor to a third-place finish in its first year at the state tournament. Also led the Skippers to their first district title, placing sixth as an individual at the Warren district, where he had a team-high game (278) and series (665). He placed fifth at the Lake sectional. His season average was 201, including 215 on house shots and 187 on sport patterns. Two-game series high was 504 and three-game series best was 677. Four years ago, Zalar was one of the students who approached the school administration about starting the bowling team, and he and teammate Jake Morenz are the Skippers' first four-year lettermen in bowling.
School, year: Solon, senior.
College: Cuyahoga Community College.
Notable: Placed ninth at the state tournament with a 231-224-172--627 series. Was leading the state tournament after the second game. At the Warren district, he placed fifth overall, and was second among individual qualifiers, with a season-best 678 series (240-182-256). Season-high, two-game series was 500. Season average was 212.
School, year: Ravenna, junior.
Notable: Placed 11th at the state tournament with a 184-194-247--625 series. Finished 10th at the Warren district with a 650 series and a 276 high game. Portage sectional champ with a 696 series. Season average was 219. Season highs were 257 match game, 246 tournament game, 497 two-game series and 696 three-game series. Portage Trail Conference Metro Division Bowler of the Year.
School, year: Fairport Harbor, junior.
Notable: Placed 15th at the state tournament with a 192-132-279--603 series. Season average was 206. Rolled a 247 high game at the Warren district and a 617 series. Had the second-high series at the Skipper Challenge and the G-Men Classic, where he bowled a season-best 679. High two-game series was 524.
School, year: Fairport Harbor, junior.
Notable: Placed 21st at the state tournament with a 224-179-185--588 series. Placed 19th at the Warren district with a 620 series, including a 278 game. Set school records for season average (218), high game (289) and high series (821). High two-game series was 523. Made three all-tournament teams.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Notable: Rich guided a team that featured just two seniors and eight total bowlers to its first state tournament and a third-place finish. It was the school's best state-tournament performance in any sport in 48 years. The Skippers rallied from a 0-2 deficit in the semifinals, but lost to eventual champion Canfield, 3-2. Fairport Harbor won the Warren district with a score of 4,225, and it finished 38 pins ahead of runner-up Canfield. The Skippers also won the Columbus Kick-Off Invitational, Akron Midway Lanes Christmas Invitational, Skipper Challenge, G-Men Classic and sectional tournament (4,285). They were runners-up at the Columbus Holiday Baker Marathon, Youngstown Holiday Tournament and Rootstown Invitational, and they finished third at three tournaments. The team's high game was 1,195 and high match series was 2,939. Rich, a former standout pitcher for the Skippers, co-owns a bowling house in Fairport Harbor and has been the school's bowling coach since the program's inception four years ago.
-- Tim Warsinskey
Special Mention: James Fishel II, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy; Ryan Liederbach, Nordonia; Mike Macuga, Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin; Trevor Meinecke, Benedictine; Tyler Meredith, Stow; Trent Miller, Brush; Ross Russell, Walsh Jesuit; Brendan Shirley, Wadsworth; Dean Vargo, Willoughby South; Daniel Wasinski, Benedictine.