The Highland High School boys bowling team finished seventh in the gold division of the Zachary LeCuyer Memorial Invitational held at Camelot Bowl in Collinsville. Overall, the tournament consisted of three divisions and 30 teams.
Teams first bowled three games in the morning to decide what division (gold, silver, bronze) each team will compete in and place for the afternoon session of three games.
The Bulldogs finished with a six-game aggregate of 5,847, which ranked seventh in the gold division.
O’Fallon Blue was the team champion of the 10-team gold division with 6,354, which was 127 pins better than runner-up Triad (6,227). Rounding out the gold division’s top five were Belleville East A (6,204), Mascoutah (6,161) and Columbia White (6,079).
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Althoff won the 10-team silver division and Wesclin won the 10-team bronze division.
Not only did O’Fallon Blue win the team championship, but it also took home gold in the individual competition.
Andrew Orf of O’Fallon Blue was the individual champion after firing an eye-popping six-game series of 1,433, which is a hefty 238.8 average. After struggling a bit with a 175 opening game, Orf found his groove to post a string of solid games: 257, 258, 259, 215 and 269.
Brandon Lacy of Belleville East A finished just one pin behind Orf at 1,432. He also achieved the highest individual game with a 280 third game.
Triad’s Gavin Pisetta was only eight pins back at 1,425. He had games of 250, 223, 249, 232, 247 and 224.
Rounding out the top five individual were Althoff’s Daniel Hummel (1,420) and Freeburg’s Tyler Hunter (1,388).
Highland was paced by senior Collin Korte, who shot an impressive six-game series of 1,333. His morning session was by far his better one as he fired a three-game set of 765, which was just one pin away from tying the school record for highest series ever.
Paul Chapman shot a 766 in 2008. Korte’s 765 tied Clayton Wilke from 2008 for the second highest series in school history. Korte’s opening game of 279 tied several people for the seventh highest individual game in school history and was just one pin off matching Lacy for the tourney’s bragging rights for single-game high honors.
Highland sophomore Adam Buske also averaged 200 or better in the tournament after shooting a 1,223 six-game series. His best games were 247, 223 and 217.
Also rolling noteworthy individual games for Highland were sophomore Trevor Leitschuh (210), junior Brandon Munie (207, 191) and senior Tanner Huelsman (202).
Experienced varsity lineup
Through tryouts, Korte and Munie carried a solid 200 average and are the leaders of the boys program.
“They definitely are our leaders, because they have a lot of experience,” Highland coach Laura Wander-Vrell said. “Korte has been on the varsity for three years, and Munie has been on the varsity for two years. Korte had a great run last year, and Munie did, too.”
Buske, Mettler and Huelsman round out the five in Highland’s starting lineup.
“Adam and Andrew, that was their first year last year stepping up, and they both played at regionals and sectionals, so they got some good experience,” Wander-Vrell said.
Waiting in the wings to crack the varsity lineup are sophomores Leitschuh and Wyatt Wies.
To start the season, Wander-Vrell said Korte will serve as the team’s anchor bowler, while Munie will be the leadoff bowler.
“If that doesn’t work, we’ll try flipping them, and then if it still does not work, we will figure it out from there,” she said. “I like to put that in their hands so they can play where they are comfortable at. I definitely think they both can handle it. We’ll just have to see who really wants each spot.”
Chase for MVC crown
The chase for the Mississippi Valley Conference championship will again be a battle between several teams. Wander-Vrell believes her Bulldogs will be in the mix vying for the league title.
“I think the varsity will be very competitive and will be a very good challenger for the conference,” Wander-Vrell said. “Yeah, we lost our big guns in Devon (Frank) and Jorden (Buske), but we have four other people who all have some varsity experience, and two who have a lot of good experience.”
Waterloo should be a contender for the conference crown, while Triad is led by arguably the best bowler in the conference in senior Gavin Pisetta, who averaged 220 in the travel league prior to taking third place in Saturday’s season-opening tournament at Camelot.
“He’s phenomenal and always fun to watch, and there is no denying that he is a skilled and very good bowler,” Wander-Vrell said of Pisetta. “But Collin (Korte) and Brandon (Munie) can definitely give him a run for his money
Jerseyville should also be competitive again, even though the Panthers graduated several members from last year’s loaded squad.
Wander-Vrell also believes that if the boys do not qualify as a team, Korte and Munie both have a good shot to qualify for the IHSA Boys State Bowling Final Tournament, which will be held Jan. 27-28 at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. Buske, Mettler and Huelsman also have a chance.
But first, Highland will have to navigate the regional and sectional tournaments.