The top bowler on a team which has rewritten the Southern Illinois High School Bowling Conference book this season, O’Fallon junior Andrew Orf isn’t one to boast of his personal accomplishments.
Orf’s numbers during the 2015-16 season speak for themselves.
Carrying an average near 225, Orf has been a mainstay on a Panthers team which raced through an undefeated Southwestern Conference season and regional championship before being derailed by Collinsville at the Cahokia Sectional last week.
But even in a second-place finish, Orf displayed his brilliance at Bel-Air Bowl with a school record three game) series of 818.
“That was pretty cool. I had shot 800 before in practice, but never in a match or a tournament. I started with a 279 and just kept throwing good, consistent shots from there,” Orf said. “I was more interested in helping the team.
I had shot 800 before in practice, but never in a match or a tournament. I started with a 279 and just kept throwing good, consistent shots from there.
O’Fallon junior Andrew Orf
“I knew that I needed to throw a strike in the ninth frame of my last game to hit 800. But like I said, I wasn’t really thinking about it. It’s about the team.”
Orf, the grandson of former PBA tour member Ray Orf and son of Rich Orf, who also spent time as a professional bowler, and the rest of the Panthers have their sights set on the biggest prize in high school bowling — the IHSA State Championship this weekend at St. Clair Bowl.
One of six local teams competing along with sectional champion Collinsville, Belleville East, Cahokia, Alton and Jerseyville, the Panthers enter the state finals ranked third behind Machesney Park-Harlem and Rockton Hononegah.
SETTING A STANDARD OF EXCELLENCE
Going through the SIHSBC season undefeated this season, O’Fallon’s success on the lane in the past five years is the best in Southern Illinois. In each of the past four years, O’Fallon has placed in the top five at the state finals and earned the second place trophy in ‘13 and third place award in ‘14.
Orf and the rest of O’Fallon’s “Fab 5” – Josh Bradshaw, Matthew Toohey, Bradley Solomon and Justin Hess – have put up staggering numbers all season. With all five bowlers carrying averages of well over 200, O’Fallon has put up team scores in the 3,200 and 3,300 range all season and earlier this season set a new state mark of 3,540 pins in one match.
The difference this season is that we’re close. We get along well and we just relax and have fun.
O’Fallon’s Andrew Orf
“The difference this season is that we’re close. We get along well and we just relax and have fun. It’s a very laid-back atmosphere,” Orf said. “I guess there’s a little pressure. But most of that comes from coaches from other teams who try to get into our heads.
“I think before we may have been watching what bowlers from other teams were doing. This year we’re just staying focused and bowling the way we can. Our coach (Mike Imes) is just awesome. He just sits there and lets us bowl. There’s no pressure from him. He knows what we can do.”
One of the top bowlers in the SIHSBC from the day he stepped into the Panthers lineup as a freshman three years ago, Orf has struggled in his two state tournament appearances.
In both the 2014 and 2015 state finals, Orf was taken out of the lineup at the state finals when he struggled to find his shot.
“Andrew is a very team-oriented bowler. He asked to come out because he felt he wasn’t helping the team as much as he wanted,” Imes said. “This is a much different Andrew Orf this year. He’s grown up and he’s more mature. He’s confident in his own and the ability of his teammates.
“You won’t see him ask to come out this year.”
Orf is using his past disappointments as motivation.
“I guess it’s always in the back of your mind because it happened. But it’s in the past and I’ve learned from it. But again, it’s past and there’s nothing I can do about it,” Orf said. “This is a different year and we’re all excited about having the chance to show what we can do this weekend.’’
With four straight top-five finishes in the state finals, the only thing missing from the Panthers bowling trophy case is the state championship. Beginning on Friday morning on its home lanes at St. Clair Bowl, O’Fallon begins its quest to become the first state bowling champion in school history.
Will anything less then a state title be disappointing? I think we’ll be disappointed if we don’t win it because we feel this is our time.
O’Fallon’s Andrew Orf
“Will anything less then a state title be disappointing? I think we’ll be disappointed if we don’t win it because we feel this is our time,” Orf said. “We know we’re good but we also know that are a lot of great teams in the state who are capable of winning.
“We just have to stay focused on what we’re doing. There are some people and coaches who like to get in your heads and say things to you that they shouldn’t be saying during the competition. We have to block that out and just bowl.”