Cahokia bowling coach Kirk Martin had a simple no-pressure approach as the Comanches prepared for the start of the Illinois High School Association Boys Bowling State Tournament series two weeks ago.
On Friday, the Comanches didn’t let their veteran coach — or themselves — down.
Ryan Bovee scorched challenging lane conditions at St. Clair Bowl for a 231.8 average while Scott Bovee averaged 226 to lead the way as Cahokia found itself in third place after the first two rounds of the state bowling tournament.
State champions just three years ago, Lockport had three bowlers average 226 or better and averaged 225.9 as a team in rolling up 6,755 pins before a jam-packed St. Clair Bowl. Lockport holds a 155-pin lead over Lincolnshire (Stevenson) and a 199-pin lead over Cahokia heading into the final day of competition.
Stevenson, led by Richy Zenner (238.5) and Zach Singer (237.8) finished the first day with a score of 6,622 while Cahokia (6,578) has three more pins then fourth place O’Fallon (6,575).
Led by Martin, one of the top coaches in the Southern Illinois High School Bowling Conference for well over a decade, Cahokia finished with a 219.3 average on Friday.
Martin has seen it all in his time and he liked what he was from his Cahokia squad.
“Were there any surprises today? Well we had a few of our younger bowlers step up and have good days whereas our older bowlers were just very consistent. The lanes got more difficult in the afternoon but I thought we handled them pretty well. We covered our spares very well,” Martin said. “The goal was to get here (the state finals) but once you’re here, you want to be able to do something.
“We did that today. We’re just hoping to come back tomorrow with another good day.”
Lockport, which edged O’Fallon to win the 2013 state title, was led by Mike Pruchnik and Andy Sims, both of whom averaged 229.5 while teammate Noah Zwit is just six pins back at (228.5.)
As usual, O’Fallon was led by junior Andrew Orf. One of the top bowlers in the entire state, Orf averaged 238.8 and stands alone in fourth place in the individual competition, 30 pins behind tournament leader Nate Stubler, of LaSalle-Peru. Stubler averaged 243.8 and finished the day with 1,463 pins.
Brandon Mooney, from defending state champion Rockton Hononegah, is second at 1,448 pins, one more than sectional champion Clayton Hartman, of Collinsville (1,447). Orf is fourth with a total of 1,433 while Jacob Nimtz, of Machesney Park Harlem rounds out the top five players after six games.
While Orf is in the expected position of contending for the individual state title, he wasn’t the only O’Fallon bowler to shine at St. Clair Bowl. Senior Justin Hess (223.6) and Matthew Toohey (218.8) also had good days for the Panthers.
“Andrew had a very good day and we had some others in Hess and Toohey who did well for us,” Panthers coach Mike Imes said, “We’re 202 pins down but we can make that up. The thing about is that we’re in fourth place and we haven’t bowled our best yet.
“I think we’ll come out and bowl well on Saturday. It’s going to come down to whichever team adjusts the most when the lanes start to change later in the day.”
Rounding out the top 12 teams who qualified for Saturday’s final two rounds were Machesney Park Harlem which is in sixth place (6.499). Collinsville (6,467), Jerseyville (6,447), Chicago Morgan Park (6,437), Orland Park Sandburg (6,386), Plainfield North (6,367) and Tinley Park Andrew (6,358).
Alton (6,330) placed 13th while Belleville East placed 22nd in the 24-team field with a score of 6,107 pins.
Local bowlers qualifying for the final six games as individuals were Chris Perkey of Alton (1,316 pins), Kurtis Murphy of Belleville East (1,311), Tyler Stevenson of Alton (1,309), Jordan Buske of Highland (1,296) and Daniel Hummel of Althoff (1,294).
The third round begins at 9:45 a.m. Saturday with the fourth and final round set for 1 p.m.
Tickets are available at the door and are priced at $10.