Daniel Boone senior Alex Horton wanted his final high school tournament to be a memorable one.
He left no doubt that it was.
Horton defeated Pottsgrove sophomore David Swavely, 225-178, in the boys singles titles Friday at the Pennsylvania High School Bowling Championships at North Versailles Bowl in Pittsburgh.
He became the first Berks County boys state champion since Conrad Weiser’s Travis Celmer in 2006.
“This is my senior year,” said Horton, who earlier won his second District 3 title. “I really wanted to come out and win states from the beginning of the year. My goal was to make it to states and bring home the title. This means a lot.”
Horton’s championship game against Swavely, who won the Eastern Regional boys’ singles championship March 13, was a matchup of childhood friends.
Swavely said he’s bowled with Horton since they were about five years old and the pair played hundreds of games together before matching up on the biggest stage Friday.
Though he certainly would have enjoyed going home with state gold, Swavely was happy to see a friend walk home with the championship during his senior season.
“He’s a senior and he deserved it,” Swavely said. “He’s a really good bowler and he’s put in a lot of work. Props to him for that. He bowled a really good game to deserve it, so there’s nothing I can really do about that. I’m not upset I lost to Alex.”
Horton used what he considered a subpar performance in the BCIAA tournament as motivation for the rest of the postseason. He won the District 3 title and placed third at regionals last weekend before becoming Daniel Boone’s first state champion and the fifth from Berks to win the boys title.
He struggled in the first game of qualifying with a 190 before he switched bowling balls and threw a 264 in the next game. He finished first in qualifying, 57 pins ahead of Swavely.
“I was seeing the lane pretty good,” Horton said. “At that point it was all about executing good shots.”
He waited through the first three matches of the stepladder finals and even talked to Swavely before beating him for the title. The match was close until Swavely had an open frame in the ninth and Horton struck out in the ninth and 10th.
“I wanted to go out with a bang,” Horton said. “This is it. That’s all she wrote after this. I wanted to do my best.”
Swavely entered Friday’s championship with the notion that he was playing with house money after already establishing himself as one of the top 16 bowlers in the state.
Still, in his first state championships, nerves crept in during the qualifying round as he bowled games of 191, 236, 246, 190, 191 and 196 to finish with a 1,250 score.
Though Swavely wasn’t 100 percent satisfied with his performance, the qualifying results were second behind Horton, entering him into the five-person step ladder finals. Pottsgrove teammate Noah Riker finished 15th with a score of 1,015.
“I was a little upset but then I come to find out nobody else was really doing well, so I made top 5 and as soon as they announced my name to be in the top 5, that’s when a bunch of pressure just relieved off me,” Swavely said. “I was like, ‘I’m at least a top 5 bowler in the state,’ which is just amazing to think that.”
Swavely’s semifinal match against Pennsbury’s Vincent Biehn was a rematch of the final of the Eastern Pa. Regional Bowling Championships.
He knocked off Biehn once again this time by score of 183-156 to set up the championship matchup with Horton and eventually walk away as the second best bowler in the state.
“The car ride back home tonight and even today, it’s crazy to think that all my hard work is paying off,” Swavely said.
Swavely’s state runner-up finish concludes an exciting season for Pottsgrove’s bowling team that also saw the Falcons compete as a team at regionals.
“This whole season was just one to remember,” Swavely said. “This year, we lose eight seniors from our high school team. This team was so much fun, whether it was high school matches, we went out to the regional qualifiers and had a great time there.
“Regional singles where my teammates were there cheering me on and now states. This year was definitely the best high school year that I’ve had. I’ve only had two years of high school experience, but this year was unbeatable. So many memories were made.”
— Owen McCue and Richard Scarcella contributed to the reporting of this story