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Red Knights wins state crown in Unified bowling

November 19, 2019
Cape Coral Daily Breeze


North Fort Myers High School has been in existence for nearly 60 years, and in all that time it has never won a state championship in a team sport.

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North’s bowling athletes Justin Borrego, John Hassell and Brandon Lovette and team partners Jake Amatuccio and Steven Garcia and coach Beth Beller celebrate after winning a state title.

On Nov. 7, that long drought ended when the school's Unified bowling team took home the first-ever Florida High School Athletic Association state championship after winning the state tournament in Orlando.

The Red Knights avenged a regional championship loss by defeating Plant City in the finals, said Beth Beller, the bowling coach, adding that even though they wanted to win, she also wanted it to be a fun experience.

"We played the same teams in the regionals and finished second. We knew we had to step it up a little bit to take home the state championship," Beller said. "We practiced a lot and the team really rallied together and cheered each other on and had fun. Winning was the icing on the cake."

The athletes were Justin Borrego, John Hassell and Brandon Lovette. Team partners were Jake Amatuccio and Steven Garcia.

After sweeping St. Lucie West Centennial in the best-of-five tournament, North got a battle from Homestead, which took them the full five games before winning, setting up the rematch with Plant City.

This time, there was no drama as the Red Knights bounced the Raiders in three straight. Beller said it was a pleasure to play them, as the teams cheered each other on even as they were battling for a state championship.

"The whole time, if our team bowled a strike or a spare, they would high-five us, and vice-versa. This is the way it should be. Competitive, but the sportsmanship for both teams was fabulous," Beller said.

Just last week, North Fort Myers was named a national championship school in Unified sports. Beller said adding this allows the team to put its mark on school history.

"We went down in history twice. We will always be the first unified bowling team to take a state championship, and it's the first time in 60 years we have brought home a state championship in any sport (though several individuals have won state championships)."



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