The Seabreeze Sandcrabs will try to make it two in a row at the state bowling championships.
The reigning state girls champs breezed to the District 3 championship on Tuesday, Oct. 25 at Palm Coast Lanes. Seabreeze will now try to defend its title at the state tournament Nov. 1-3 at the Boardwalk Bowl Entertainment Center in Orlando.
Matanzas won the boys title. It is the first district bowling championship in school history. The DeLand boys and girls teams, were district runners-up, and they will be joining the Sandcrabs and Pirates at state.
Flagler Palm Coast's Emma Pezzullo and Spruce Creek's Samantha Powell are also headed to state as the district's individual girls qualifiers. University's Jacob Burke and Kolby Lyster qualified individually for the boys tournament.
"Everybody's going to try to beat us," said Seabreeze coach Paul Shuler. "But these girls have a way to make things work for them and finish the game like it should be finished."
Just as they've done all season, the Sandcrabs dominated the district tournament. They earned the top seed in the morning games and then won three straight Baker matches without losing a game. They also won district last year on the way to the state title.
"It feels great to win again," said Seabreeze's Kara Beissel, who had the second-highest average in the morning games at 209, behind Pezzullo's 231.33. "The bond that we all have as a team, it helps keep it going. It's all a mental game. If you can make spares you're good."
Matanzas senior Morgan Naydich said the title is a dream come true.
"It's absolutely amazing. I can't even put words to describe it. It's something I've been working for these three years, just every single time I've been on these lanes."
MORGAN NAYDICH, Matanzas bowler
"It's absolutely amazing. I can't even put words to describe it," he said. It's something I've been working for these three years, just every single time I've been on these lanes."
Naydich produced the second highest boys average with a 225.67 behind DeLand's Tyler Sprague, who averaged 233.33 in the three morning games.
The Pirates won all three of their Baker matches. They defeated DeLand in the final, 3-1, winning the last game 179-174. Naydich clinched the victory with a strike followed by an eight in the 10th frame. But strikes in the eighth and ninth frames by Mason Evans and Jett Walden put Matanzas in position to win it, Pirates boys coach Jens Oliva said.
"If Mason didn't strike in that eighth frame, we wouldn't have won it. We would have had to play a (fifth and final game)."
The Pirates avenged their only regular-season loss at DeLand late in the season.
"We took it in stride," Naydich said of the loss. "It was, OK we have things to improve on. We know what we have to do better. This is the result of all the preparation, all the times that our great coaches put us in these different practice drills, put us in these real live situations. All that preparation led to today."
Naydich had clinched an individual spot at state with his morning performance. But he said going as an individual would not have been the same.
"Honestly, it would have stung if I was the only one (from my team) to go," he said. "I would have missed the support of these guys. They are just absolutely great teammates."
The FPC boys and girls teams both lost in the consolation finals to the district runners-up. DeLand's boys and girls won 3-2 in both consolation finals to secure their spots at state.
The Sandcrabs are the likely girls favorites at the state championships. They went undefeated during the regular season, winning 109 of a possible 112 points. They returned all of their bowlers from last year's championship team. At Orlando, they'll only be missing one bowler from last year, Breanna Hess, who has been injured this season.