After watching junior Clayton Hartman light up Bel-Air Bowl last week with a six-game total of 1,540 pins and lead Collinsville to the team title at the Cahokia Bowling Sectional, Kahoks coach Sean Hay’s response was simple.
“Clayton was in a zone,” Hay said.
Hay’s hope heading into the IHSA Boys State Bowling Tournament, which begins on Friday at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon, is that the rest of the Kahoks also find that “zone.”
In all, 24 of the top teams in the state — including the top-ranked 14 teams — will compete in what could be a record-smashing state finals. Ation begins at 9:45 a.m. Friday.
Among the top teams competing are defending state champions Rockton Hononegah, sectional champions Machesney Park-Harlem, Collinsville, St. Charles East and former state champion Orland Park-Sandburg, host O’Fallon, Belleville East, Cahokia, Jerseyville and Alton.
And I think the scores will be very high. It wouldn’t surprise me to see several teams shoot 6,600-6,700 scores for six games here this weekend.
O’Fallon coach Mike Imes
“One of the things accomplished a couple of years ago when the IHSA went to the regional-sectional format was that I think it resulted in the best teams getting to the state tournament,” O’Fallon coach Mike Imes said. “This year if you look at the state rankings, you have the top 14 teams here and I feel that any one of them, if they get on a roll, are capable of winning the state title. It’s just a matter of who gets hot for two days. And I think the scores will be very high. It wouldn’t surprise me to see several teams shoot 6,600-6,700 scores for six games here this weekend.”
First-round action begins with the opening three games at 9:45 a.m Friday. Round two follows at 1 p.m. Following the completion of play, the field will be cut to the top 12 teams and top 30 individuals not on those teams who will return for the final six games on Saturday. Round three begins at 9:45 a.m. Saturday with the fourth and final round set for 1 p.m. Tickets are priced at $10 per person and are good for all day.
O’Fallon, which won the Southwestern Conference in the SIHSBC and Collinsville are the two top local teams.
The Panthers, who set a state (three game) record of 3,540 earlier this season, are led by juniors Andrew Orf, Michael Toohey and Josh Bradshaw along with seniors Justin Hess and Bradley Soloman. The group has teamed for one of the most dominating seasons in SIHSBC history.
But after winning the regional title two weeks ago, the Panthers met their match in Collinsville, which bowled a 6,795 score to edge both O’Fallon (6,761) and Belleville East for the sectional title at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville.
Hartman led the way for the Kahoks, who also got brilliant efforts from Hayden Juenger (1,344) and senior Eric Mielke (1,329). But it was Hartman who stole the show.
“Clayton was just locked in,” Hay said. “I think he had three games with 11 strikes and another with 10. It was as good a performance as I’ve seen in a long time. But Hayden (Juenger) had a great day and it was great to see Eric (Mielke) being a senior and having the kind of day he did. Actually everybody I put in when the lanes changed and began to break down, did a great job.”
The shot the state puts down for the state tournament is different anyway. It’s going to come down to whichever team does the best job of adjusting ... when lanes break down.
Collinsville coach Sean Hay
“This week I think we’re going to see some really big numbers being shot. O’Fallon is at home and its an advantage but I think the top players from all the local teams have bowled there (St. Clair) enough. The shot the state puts down for the state tournament is different anyway. It’s going to come down to whichever team does the best job of adjusting ... when lanes break down.”
Belleville East could be in the trophy hunt under the leadership of coach Marcus Barriger. The Lancers got solid efforts last week from sophomore Kurtis Murphy (1,455), junior Douglas Gray (1,373) and senior Kyle Dauphin (1,390). Cahokia’s top player last week was senior Adam Browning (1,355).
Local individuals competing include Justin Simpson of Granite City, Keegan Spirek of Mater Dei, John Harbaugh of Gibault, Jordan Buske of Highland and Daniel Hummel of Althoff.