Highland boys bowling coach Laura Wander-Vrell believes the Bulldogs and Triad are the front-runners for the Mississippi Valley Conference crown this season.
“I think the conference will be between us and Triad, because everybody pretty much lost a lot of their team,” Wander-Vrell said. “I don’t think we have the biggest scorers, but I think we have the most team depth.”
The two rivals will waste no time butting heads on the lanes. After opening the season Saturday, Nov. 11 at the Zachary LeCuyer Memorial Invitational at Camelot Bowl in Collinsville, Highland will open the conference schedule by playing host to Triad on Monday, Nov. 20 at Poplar Junction Lanes.
Last year, Triad edged out Highland on the strength of the league’s top bowler, Gavin Pisetta.
Pisetta was the regional individual champion with a 237 average in six games and helped the Knights win the regional as a team. He went on to finish 25th in the state and helped the Knights finish fourth as a team. Pisetta is now a member of the McKendree University men’s bowling team.
Triad still returns two formidable bowlers from last year’s state-placing squad. Senior Nick Beeler placed 42nd at state a year ago, and sophomore Bryce Pisetta, Gavin’s younger brother, wound up 59th.
Brandon Munie is Highland’s top returning bowler. He is the captain and the team’s lone senior. Munie has been rolling a 208 average thus far in the preseason.
Last year at the IHSA Salem Boys Bowling Regional, Munie fired the overall second highest individual series behind Gavin Pisetta at a 1,375 — which equates to a 229 game average — to help the Bulldogs finish second and qualify as a team for the Collinsville Sectional.
Munie’s 734 three-game set in the morning session ranked as the overall highest series of the entire competition. He also shot a 279 second game, which was the second-highest game of the entire day.
“He is a good leader, and he is going to come into his own this year,” Wander-Vrell said of Munie. “He is a good kid, and hopefully, he is going to get this team a little fired up.”
For the past few years, Wander-Vrell has entrusted the captain of the team to pick the lineup prior to the team’s matches. Wander-Vrell has trust faith Munie will make good decisions when he decides who plays where.
“He can do it. He’s smart enough. He’s knows the game and what is going on,” she said.
Another key returner is junior Adam Buske, who bowled a 1,276 six-game aggregate and came in fourth place overall last year at the regional. Buske is currently bowling at a 200 clip again in the preseason.
Also filling out the lineup for the Bulldogs will be junior Trevor Leitschuh, sophomore Austin Davis, sophomore Austin Roach and junior Wyatt Wiese. Leitschuh has been carrying an average slightly under 200, while Davis has been consistently in the 180s.
Roach and Wiese have been in the 170s. Wander-Vrell said the two of them can raise their averages now that they are in season, especially Roach, whose focus until recently has been on soccer.
In addition, freshman Steven Reinacher has the potential to be able to crack the varsity lineup.
Rounding out the roster for the Highland bowling Bulldogs are sophomore Ian Grandame, sophomore Lucas Hollenkamp and freshman Garret Roth.