October 15, 2009
Back in 2007, Martin County lost its first regular-season match but went on to its next 15. The unbeaten streak continued in 2008 when the team won all 18 matches en route to the Florida state title.
With Matt Gauroniak, a senior who is averaging 232, and his brother Eric, a freshman averaging 225, leading the way this season, Martin County won its first 11 matches to run its win streak to 44.
Thomas Baral, the coach at Martin County for the last five years, is co-owner of Stuart Lanes and has been involved in the center's youth program for the last eight years. He encourages the youth bowlers to compete in tournaments around the state as well as United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold events and the Teen Masters.
"This past year, we've had over 25 kids a month participate in the Kegel Youth Tournament, all in an effort to improve their game, and to deal with challenging lane conditions," Baral said. "The tougher lane conditions have made my bowlers better at focusing, adjusting and executing their shots.
"The kids on our team, and on others in the district, have excelled in high school bowling because of their dedication to the sport year round."
Martin County's success has led to more students wanting to join the program. The school has held tryouts the last three years to determine who will compete on the eight-member boys team and eight-member girls team. Baral hopes to add a junior varsity team to the program in the next few years.
Both teams have had success this year - the Martin County girls are 10-1 - but the streak has put the spotlight on the boys. Besides the Gauroniak brothers, seniors James Pauly (210 average) and Nick Melfi (196) also have helped to keep Martin County perfect. Other team members include senior Christopher Giobonie, junior Casey Dockerill and sophomores Jonathan Perez and Tim Webster.
Besides continuing the streak, Martin County will look to defend its state title. The district tournaments are No. 2-3 and the Florida High School Athletic Association Bowling Finals will be held at the Boardwalk Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 10-11.