Since the beginning of the winter season, the OTHS girls bowling team has found a way to scramble to the top of the leader board, whether battling it out in dual meets in the Southwestern Conference or facing stiff competition in major tournament appearances.
Victories in the Abe Lincoln and Viking tournaments in the regular season and a pair of second-place finishes in the IHSA post-season, which qualifies the Lady Panthers for the state finals this weekend have been fueled by team determination and consistency usually spear-headed by individual team members stepping to the forefront in critical situations.
This week’s top athlete took her turn at center stage in the IHSA sectional tournament this past weekend in Belleville. OTHS kegler Hayleigh Williams saved her best series of the season to lead the young Lady Panthers to the promised land — a spot in the IHSA state tournament at the Cherry Bowl in Rockford. Williams put together consecutive games of 196, 279 and 236 in the first set for a 711 series. In the afternoon session, she continued her hot streak with a 644 series to finish in fourth place in the individual standings with a total of 1,355 pins, the top score posted by an OTHS bowler.
“Hayleigh has been an important member of our team since the start of the season,” said O’Fallon coach Garrett Spencer. “She really stepped up for us in the sectional to help the team fend off challenges from Collinsville, Belleville East and Belleville West, solidifying our second-place finish.”
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“I participate in bowling because it is very challenging,” said the OTHS sophomore, the daughter of Jon and Kim Williams. “I started bowling almost as soon as I started walking because it has been a part of my family forever. My team and my family have contributed the most to my success along with my own personal love for the sport.
“Competing in athletics has made me take everything as a challenge. It has shown me that you can never say that you can’t do something because with hard work and dedication anything is possible.”