It sounds like a cheesy Hollywood script: Local bowling team wins a trip to Las Vegas for a national tournament. At first, the bright lights intimidate the high school kids from Clearwater, but they bear down just in time to make the round of 16.
Then, the underdogs start to bowl like they've never bowled before. They knock off the top seed and win the national championship and the $5,000 prize money.
The team comes home to a big ticker-tape parade in downtown Clearwater.
Okay, that last part didn't happen.
But the high school team representing Countryside Lanes did win the Teen Masters National Championship on Aug. 5 at South Point in Las Vegas. The tournament was comprised of 33 teams from around the country. Each team had five bowlers. Countryside was represented by Joe May (East Lake High), Tyler Barbee (Indian Rocks Christian), Kaylee Magazine (Clearwater Central Catholic), Jamie Cowden (Tarpon Springs High) and Cory Misura (Largo High).
After winning a regional tournament at Countryside Lanes, the team qualified to represent Florida in Las Vegas. The tournament almost ended early for Countryside, but it barely qualified for match play by three pins. The team opened match play by defeating top seed Yorba Linda, Calif., 2-0. It lost only one game afterward en route to the title, including a 2-0 win over Beaver Vu Bowl of Ohio in the championship match.
"They just barely got in the match play round,'' coach Mark Misura, father of Cory, said. "Then they got hot.''
The format of the tournament called for each team to bowl a series of three, 12-game blocks for a total of 36 games. That is how the team barely qualified for the match play rounds. Each of the five players rotated through a 10-frame game by bowling two frames each game. That puts added pressure on each player every game.
"The team bowled 45 games and there was never a clean game,'' Misura said, meaning in every game there was at least one open frame. "That's pretty remarkable and it shows how much pressure there is in this kind of format. But the team never quit. They just kept on going.''
And they kept on bowling. Misura said the team pretty much lived at the bowling center during the trip.
"We were in that bowling center from 8 in the morning to 10 at night,'' Misura said. "We had time to ourself only twice the whole week. We didn't really have much of a chance to experience Las Vegas.''
The Sam Parks Junior Invitational was held Sunday, Aug. 23 at Belleair Country Club. The overall boys champion was Matt Cote of Palm Harbor, who shot 65. The overall girls champion was Nicole Quinn of Windemere, who shot 73. The boys 16-18 champion was M.J. Maguire of St. Petersburg, who shot 67. The boys 13-15 winner was Jack Maguire of St. Petersburg, who shot 69. The boys futures winner was Martin Fennemore of Clearwater, who shot 75. The girls 16-18 winner was A.J. Newell of Tampa, who shot 74. The girls 13-15 winner was Madison Opfer of Plant City, who shot 76.
• Phil Olive of Estero won the Mid-Senior Championship at Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead and Island Courses on Aug. 21-23. Olive's three-round total was 211, three shots better than Buddy Alexander of Gainesville. Neil Vanleeuwen of Tarpon Springs was the top Pinellas finisher with 222. Marshall Ames of Clearwater shot 225, Dennis Monahan of Largo shot 230, Ken Palladino of Dunedin shot 230 and Brian Duke of Tarpon Springs shot 232.
• A Back to School tournament was held at Largo Golf Course on Saturday, Aug. 22. There were 18 two-person teams comprised of one school-aged player and one adult in a nine-hole scramble format. The high school division champions were Jared and Yoshi Smoot, who shot 32. The middle school division champions were Andrew Tuttle and Brad Fletcher, who shot 29. The elementary school division winners were Nick and Nicholas Amaro, who shot 31.
Dunedin's Roger Gentilhomme, who is 100 years old, won a gold medal in tennis and bowling at the National Senior Games in San Francisco during the first two weeks of August. Gentilhomme was the only 100-year-old athlete in the Games. Other locals who fared well included the Clearwater Aces 3-on-3 basketball team, which won a silver medal. The players were Harry Carothers (Pinellas Park), Jim McNulty (Longboat Key), John Salter (Oviedo), Clark Mosier (The Villages) and Mike Campbell (Tampa).
Sari Kisbany of Redington Shores earned a bronze medal in table tennis for women 60-64. She also won a bronze in doubles and a gold in mixed doubles. Alfred Palumbo also received a bronze in table tennis for men 75-79. The 65-69 mixed doubles table tennis team of Nahed Williams (Redington Shores) and Raymond Look (Dunedin) won the gold medal.
Agnes Green of Belleair won a bronze in the women's 55-59 shot put. She won a gold in the discus with a throw of 91 feet, 4 inches.
The Gulf Coast Mustangs Baseball Club, a 12-under team from Pinellas and Pasco counties and coached by Frank Uzdavines, took second place in the Ripken Wave Rider Tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C., during the week of Aug. 3-7. There were 15 teams from the Northeast and Midwest in the tournament. Players for the Mustangs are Britton Araujo (East Lake), Riley Choate (Oldsmar), Nick Desantis (East Lake), Aaron Dickson (Palm Harbor), Tanner Field (Largo), Tyler Gardner (East Lake), Brian Hloska (Holiday), Trevor Jensen (Dunedin), Ian Lisle (Palm Harbor), Andrew Mink (Clearwater), Tyler Short (Oldsmar) and Ben Solenberger (Clearwater).