The O’Fallon Township High School boys bowling team finally came down to earth a bit this past weekend, while the young Lady Panther bowlers opened their season impressively.
After blasting past Collinsville and Belleville West to move to 3-0 in Southwestern Conference action, Coach Mike Imes’ boys squad struggled with tough lane conditions in the 9th annual Abe Lincoln Invitational, finishing third behind Triad and Salem. The O’Fallon girls bested their male counterparts in the tourney, taking second place overall — 125 pins behind tourney champion Collinsville.
The week’s bowling action began with the O’Fallon boys pummeling the Collinsville Kahoks 3390-2944. Leadoff bowler Mark Hoermer rolled a 703 series with a high game of 262. Matthew Toohey posted scores of 252 and 260 to end with a 745. Senior Andrew Orf helped the Panther cause with back-to-back 278’s and a 741 series.
“Our early scoring has been phenomenal,” Imes said. “After two league matches our bowlers have a 221 average. Sustaining that pace may be difficult; however, I don’t see our kids falling off too much.”
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The exploits of the Panthers’ boys team went from good to better when they faced off against Belleville West. The match featured the first 300 game of the season with Orf rolling the perfect score in the first game. Orf cooled off a bit in the next two games but still ended the day with a 728 series.
Toohey added a 235 game, and Eli Rosenberg carded a pair of 200-plus games, allowing O’Fallon to cruise to a 200-pin victory over the Maroons.
The match against Belleville West marked the season-opener for the OTHS girls team. Featuring a very young line-up for 2016-17, the Lady Panthers will depend on three sophomores and two freshmen keglers to carry the load. They were able to pass their first test with flying colors, defeating the Maroons 2671-2516. The O’Fallon girls were led by Natalie Heltne, who posted two 200-plus games, and Mary Dorf, who fired a 212 in game two.
“We will be depending on a very young group this year, but most of our bowlers are very experienced,” said O’Fallon High girls coach Garrett Spencer. “They gave a hint as to what they are capable of doing by defeating Belleville West.”
The Lady Panthers’ first Southwestern Conference win provided a springboard for their first tournament action of the 2016-17 campaign, and they certainly earned some respect with a second place team finish in the 18-team field.
“Our girls got off to a great start, bowling a 1011 in the first game,” Spencer said. “We stumbled a bit in the second game, allowing Collinsville to take the lead. Our kids battled back in the fifth and sixth games but eventually had to settle for second with a 189.1 average.”
Top gun for the O’Fallon girls was freshman Mary Orf, whose total pin count of 1295 was the best in the tournament. Orf was sizzling, firing a 206 in her first game and eclipsing the 200-pin mark in five of her six tourney games. Her high score of 278 was only one pin short of the best OTHS score in the competition. The 279 was posted by her older brother, Andrew Orf.
The Panther freshman had plenty of help in securing O’Fallon’s second place finish. Lauren Tomaszewki also broke the 200-pin plateau in five of her six games to finished 1229 total pins — good enough for fifth place overall. Hayleigh Williams and Natalie Heltne also contributed multiple 200-plus games, sealing the Lady Panthers’ stranglehold on second place.
The OTHS boys team had difficulty adjusting to lane conditions and came up short in their pursuit of a second straight tournament title. After winning the Kahok Invitational to start the season, the Panthers set their sights on a repeat performance, but the Triad Knights held off an OTHS rally in game six to win the title by 189 pins over second place Salem and 196 pins ahead of the Panthers.
“Our team didn’t bowl poorly; they just were not as consistent as they have been in first two weeks of the season,” Imes said. “We had six bowlers end up in the top 20, led by Andrew Orf and Eli Rosenberg, who both averaged 211 for the day. Our JV team bowled exceptionally well, finishing just two slots behind our varsity in fifth place overall.”
Both O’Fallon bowling teams return to Southwestern Conference action this week with matches scheduled against Alton, Belleville East and Granite City.