Fairfield co-op bowling wins state title. Again.

Coach Brendan Puskar, left and the members of the Fairfield co-op bowling team pose with the state championship trophy after winning its second straight title at the Rowl-A-Rama in Newington.
Coach Brendan Puskar, left and the members of the Fairfield co-op bowling team pose with the state championship trophy after winning its second straight title at the Rowl-A-Rama in Newington.contributed / contributed

NEWINGTON—Make it two straight state titles for the Fairfield co-op bowling team.

The Fairfield squad won the 2017 CIAC championship on March 4 at the Bowl-A-Rama in Newington. A total of 33 teams competed in the tournament.

“I'm extemely happy with these past two years,” Fairfield bowling coach Brendan Puskar said. “These kids put so much time and effort into their bowling between different leagues, clinics, tournaments, practices, etc ... to see it pay off for them in back to back years is a great feeling.”

Fairfield also won the CIBL - the Connecticut Interscholastic Bowling League - crown for the second straight year. The Mustangs finished first with 31,082 scratch pins, followed by second place Notre Dame-Fairfield (27,204 pins), Platt Tech (26,549), Fairfield Prep (26,425) and Greenwich (26,207). St. Joseph’s, Joel Barlow, Bunnell and Stratford rounded out the nine-team league. The CIBL is run by the Nutmeg Lanes in Fairfield.

Over the course of the CIBL season (it runs from Thanksgiving to March), Fairfield was led by Michael Toth, who averaged 190 (6,852 pins) in 36 games. He was followed by Kayla Bivens, who averaged 189 (5,685 pins) in 30 games. Rob Casucci averaged 180 (5,959 pins, 33 games), Kayla Perez averaged 163 (5,887 pins, 33 games), Chris Nielsen averaged 162 (3,417 pins, 21 games), Rob Pineda averaged 158 (950 pins, six games) Joh Cohen averaged 154 (924 pins, six games) and Ethan Nischan averaged 130 (391 pins, three games).

“Our team really does have tremendous depth. Any one of our varsity bowlers would be a solid anchor on another team,” Puskar said. “A lot of it speaks to the program that Nutmeg Bowling Alley puts on with their junior leagues and clinics. Our bowlers take advantage of what the local alley has to offer and it pays off in the high school league.”

The format for the state tournament is the first player bowls the first and sixth frames, the second bowls the second and seventh, the third bowls the third and eighth, the fourth bowls the fourth and ninth and the fifth bowls the fifth and 10th.

After 10 games Fairfield was the number one seed, which was calculated using total pin fall (1,790 pins). In the championship match, Fairfield defeated Terryville 141-116. Bivens led the team with 10 strikes and Fairfield posted a tournament high game of 220.

“There is definitely more pressure in the state tournament than in our regular season,” Puskar said. “The Baker format puts a larger emphasis on the team rather than individual scores. They were able to encourage each other and have one another's back the entire day. It was great to really see them come together.”

And the chances that Fairfield will be battling for a third straight state title are good. Four of the five starting bowlers on this year’s team are juniors, the other, a freshman.

“We are definitely looking forward to next season,” Puskar said. “We have some great young bowlers on our JV team who are constantly getting better as well. The future looks bright but we are definitely enjoying the moment now as well.”

Among the other local high school teams, the Lancers were led by Christopher Stevens, who averaged 185 over 36 games, Andrew Fallon averaged 172, Pete Minore averaged 142, Jack Rohr averaged 141, Mathais Dossaltus averaged 132, Myles Atkins averaged 125, Gabe Bettencourt averaged 124 and Brendan White averaged 106.

Fairfield Prep was paced by John Centopani, who averaged a 202 - recording the second highest scratch series, 677, and the third highest game, 254 over the CIBL season - for the Jesuits. Matt Howard averaged 154, Joe Centopani averaged 141, Tyler Carter averaged 133, Nick Magrone averaged 129, Finn Mangan averaged 123, Jorge Aguilar averaged 116 and Peter Wheeler averaged 101.