An IHSA-sanctioned sport since the 2002-03 school year, the boys bowling postseason will feature three rounds of competition for the first time this winter.
Bowlers from throughout the state will be required to advance through regional and sectional competitions to qualify for boys state bowling tournament, which is set for Jan. 31-Feb. 1 at St. Clair Bowl in O'Fallon.
In the past, boys and girls just needed to qualify for the state finals at sectional competitions. But because more schools are now competing, the decision was made to add a regional round.
Southern Illinois High School Bowling Conference Commissioner Mike Imes said the change has drawn positive feedback from league coaches.
"I think we'll know more after we go through it this year for the first time. But I think the coaches are looking forward to the change. It's something the (Illinois) Coaches Association has been going after for a couple of years,'' Imes said. "We now have enough teams to justify doing it.
"It's new and I think it's going to make it more interesting. More schools will have an opportunity to move on and compete in the state series. It's exciting because teams from the LaSalle-Peru Regional will feed into the sectional down here. We've never seen those teams before."
Regionals will be held Jan. 18 at sites throughout the state. Regionals including local teams are being hosted by Cahokia and Collinsville.
Competing at the Collinsville Regional, which will be held at Camelot Bowl, will be Alton, Civic Memorial, Mater Dei, Collinsville, Edwardsville, Metro East Lutheran, Highland, Granite City, Lebanon, Roxana, Triad and Wood River.
The Cahokia Regional will be held at Red Bird Lanes with Althoff, Belleville East, Belleville West, Cahokia, Columbia, Freeburg, Mascoutah, O'Fallon, Wesclin, Gibault and Waterloo competing.
The top four teams and top 10 individuals not on those teams advance to the Mascoutah Sectional on Jan. 25 at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville. The top six schools and top seven individuals at the Mascoutah Sectional will advance to the state finals at St. Clair Bowl.
The girls state tournament series begins Feb. 8 and concludes with the state finals on Feb. 21-22 at Cherry Bowl in Rockford.
Season winds down
With just a little over a week remaining in the regular season, Cahokia, O'Fallon and Waterloo hold slim leads in the race for conference titles in the SIHSBC.
Ranked among the state's top three teams all season, O'Fallon (8-0) holds a narrow lead over Alton (5-1) and Collinsville (4-2) in the battle for the Southwestern Conference championship. Cahokia (7-0) tops the Cahokia Mounds Conference over Freeburg (5-2) and Columbia (4-2), while Waterloo (8-1) has a slim lead over Jerseyville (7 1/2-1 1/2) and Highland (7 1/2- 1 1/2) in the Mississippi Valley Conference.