The O’Fallon Panthers hope to add to an already impressive bowling resume Saturday when they compete against 12 other teams at the Cahokia Girls Regional Bowling Tournament at West Park Bowl in Columbia.
Competing with a team made up of only freshmen and sophomores, O’Fallon coach Garrett Spencer watched as his young team won the Southwestern Conference with a 10-2 record and competed well in three major tournaments against the top teams in the state this season. On Saturday, the Panthers will compete on lanes they haven’t seen all year and with the added pressure of being in the postseason for the first time.
“Am I surprised at how well we’ve bowled? Not at all. We may be young, but these girls have bowled for a long time. The good thing about this team is that they’ll all be together for two more years yet,” Spencer said.
Cahokia, Waterloo, Columbia, Belleville East and Belleville West will try to give the Panthers a battle Saturday when bowling begins at 9 a.m. The top four teams advance to the Belleville East Sectional on Feb. 11 at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville.
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O’Fallon freshmen Natalie Heltne (209 average) and Mary Orf (207) lead the Panthers, whose top competition might come from Cahokia, which won the Cahokia Mounds Division with a 14-0 record. The Comanches are led by Cassie Martin (210). Waterloo, which won the Mississippi Valley Conference, is led by Makensy Umscheid (212). The top bowler in the tournament is Courtney Argus, of Dupo (230).
Collinsville, which missed a tie for the SWC championship by a half-game, is the heavy favorite for the title at the Triad Regional at Camelot Bowl in Collinsville. Led by experienced players such as Madisyn Juenger (215) and Zoe Howell (199), the Kahoks will be pushed by Highland and Alton.
Bowling begins at 9 a.m.