NILES - Deja vu doesn't even begin to describe what the Austintown Fitch girls bowling team is feeling as the 2014 year starts to wind into postseason action.
Like last year, the Falcons are undefeated in match play (11-0). Like last year, they have fared well in tournaments and invitationals. They even have the exact same team as 2012-13, which was a state-qualifying team.
And like last year, the Falcons won the McKinley Lanes Martin Luther King Bowling Invitational on Monday.
With a final pin count of 1,684, the Falcons took home the trophy from the 11th annual tournament, defeating second-place Nordonia by 131 pins. Rounding out the top five was Girard (1,541), Hubbard (1,502) and Austintown Fitch "B" (1,406).
"The year has been going well, we are pretty much in the same situation that we were in last year," Fitch coach Don Morrison said. "We are undefeated again. It's the same team I had last year, I didn't lose anybody. We're just trying to keep everybody in realm and not get outside of themselves."
The annual tournament featured 10 girls teams and 10 boys teams. The qualifying round consisted of two individual games followed by five baker games. From there, the top five girls and top five boys teams advanced to the finals, which consisted of 10 baker games.
The Falcons were the top seed out of qualifying, bowling a 2,769. Junior Jessica Halas had the best girls individual series of the day with a 425. Behind her was teammate Lynnette Seebacher with a 411. The third highest series on the girls' side was a 375, rolled by Hubbard's Miranda Romano - the lone returning bowler from the state runner-up team of last season.
While the Falcons have had success this year and added onto that with the win on Monday, Seebacher said she and the other four seniors are just trying to stay grounded and keep their eye on the prize - a trip back to Columbus for the state tournament. This year, they hope to do better than their 13th place finish in 2013. Only the top eight teams advance to the finals at the state tournament.
"We want to get there again and redeem ourselves because that was not us last year," Seebacher said. "You have to keep yourself grounded. Last year, we went in (to state) really confident. We had won sectionals, we won our AAC and we won districts. We just figured we were going to do good. You can't be overconfident. You have to back it up with your skills."
While Austintown Fitch is trying to get back to state, the Canfield boys also are looking for another trip to Wayne Webb's Columbus Bowl to defend their state title.
On Monday, the Cardinals came in second place, losing by 18 pins to Nordonia, 1,803-1,785.
Canfield rallied to take the lead after the sixth baker game, passing eventual third-place finisher Crestwood. However, Nordonia rolled a 190 in the ninth game to take the lead. The Cardinals tried to fight back in the 10th and final baker but couldn't overcome the Knights. Canfield won the MLK invitational last season.
Crestwood finished third with a 1,727, followed by Warren G. Harding (1,681) and Austintown Fitch (1,583).
Canfield sophomore Andrew Letscher bowled the highest boys series of the day, rolling a 454. Nolen Postolka of Nordonia was second with a 423, followed by Letscher's teammate Tyler Frklesh with a 405. Warren G. Harding's Jason Nolen bowled a 400 and Austintown Fitch's Kyle Condrick was in fifth with a 385.