During his long and Illustrious tenure as commissioner of the Southern Illinois High School Bowling Conference, Mike Imes has witnessed many great achievements on lanes throughout the metro-east area.
But Imes has never seen the talent-pool deeper at the very elite level then it has been during the 2012-13 boys bowling season.
With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, six area athletes who have bowled at least 17 games in SIHSBC play are carrying averages of 220 or better.
"I know we've never had so many bowlers averaging over 220 this late in the season before,'' Imes said Wednesday. "I think part of it is that the coaching is better then its ever been and the kids who are coming up through the feeder system are getting more and better instruction at a younger age.
"The other part is the bowlers themselves. These kids are bowling in leagues, They are bowling in clinics on different shots and so when they go different centers, they are able to adjust because they've seen the same (lane) conditions before.''
The best of the bunch is Belleville East standout Thomas Peters who through 17 games is averaging 235. Peters, who has a high series of 740, holds a narrow lead over Michael McGarry of Waterloo (229) E.J. Holdener of Freeburg (228) and Cameron Touchette of Columbia (227).
Billy Goodman of O'Fallon is fifth at 225, while Alton's Cody Netzhammer is currently sixth in the league with a 222 average.
Division titles up for grabs
Freeburg, Alton and Waterloo hold slim leads in the battle for SIHSBC divisional titles heading down the stretch.
In the Southwestern Conference, Alton holds (6-0) a one game lead over O'Fallon after the Rebinds rallied late for a narrow win on its home lanes over O'Fallon (5-1). Netzhammer leads the way for the Redbirds, but others like Shane Stromwatt (211) have also been solid.
Senior Tommy Frost (212) of O'Fallon is also one of the top bowlers in the state. O'Fallon currently has five bowlers averaging over 200 per game.
Collinsville, Granite City and Belleville East are currently 3-3 in league play.
Following is a brief look at the races in the Cahokia Mounds and the Mississippi Valley Divisions in the SIHSBC.
Cahokia Mounds Division
Led by Holdener, Freeburg (7-1) maintains a 1/2 game lead over Cahokia Ben Carril (191) and Austin Caravia (190) have also been solid for the Midgets. Cahokia is led by Antwon McNeese with a 207 average.
Mater Dei and Wesclin, both 5-3 are tied for third in the Cahokia Mounds Conference.
Mississippi Valley Division
Led By McGarry, Waterloo has been one of the major surprises of the 2012-13 season as it is 7-0 and holds a narrow lead over Highland (6-1) and Mascotuah (6-1). Tyler McIver (211) and Hayden Bode (200) added depth for Waterloo.
Anthony Betcher (214) leads Mascoutah's attack while Zach Chapman (205) leads Highland in scoring.
The 2012-13 postseason begins on Saturday, Jan 19 with sectional tournaments. Events involving local teams will be hosted at Alton (Bowl Haven Lanes), Cahokia (Redbird Lanes) and Mount Vernon (Nu Bowl Lanes).
The Boys State Bowling Tournament will be held Jan. 25-26 at St. Clair Bowl in O'Fallon.