Second-place individual finishes at both the regional and the section by junior Donny Richards helped OTHS roll to team titles at both events and pave the way for the Panthers’ ninth straight trip to the state tournament.
“I have been bowling since the fifth-grade and haven’t stopped since,” said the 16-year-old son of Henry and Cindy Voegtle, this week’s Athlete of the Week. “At first, I was bowling because it was fun, but now I do it a lot more competitively and have made some great friends.”
The Panthers won the Cahokia Regional held at West Park Bowl in Columbia Saturday, Jan. 12 to advance to the sectional competition, held this past Saturday at NuBowl Lanes in Mount Vernon.
At the sectional, Richards fired a 1,394, which was second only to Freeburg’s Tyler Hunter, a senior, who rolled a 1,416. O’Fallon won the team competition by rolling a 6,480.
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At the regional, OTHS had a total pin count of 6,511 — 330 pins better than second-place Belleville East. John Leshikar, a senior from Althoff, was the regional’s individual champion with 1,371 pins. Richards finished just one pin back with a 1,370.
It was the first time in 15 years, the OTHS boys bowling team won both the regional and sectional qualifier.
O’Fallon coach Mike Imes said that Richards “has been a solid bowler all year.”
“He bowled well on JV the first part of the season, and I started giving him more playing time on varsity. He has continues to get better as the season progresses,” Imes said.
Richards said that bowling has made him a more competitive person, overall, with his success on the lanes pushing him to try harder in the classroom, as well as in his other endeavors.
“It has helped me develop relationships and gave me a new perspective on the world,” he said.
His teammates hope that perspective will include a look from the top of the podium this weekend. The Panthers will be gunning for a state title, which they could win in front of their hometown fans. St. Clair Bowl, O’Fallon’s home lanes, will play host to the IHSA State Tournament on Friday and Saturday.