The O’Fallon Panthers got off to a fast start are in third place after the first two rounds the IHSA girls bowling state tournament at Cherry Bowl in Rockford.
O’Fallon had games of 253 from sophomore Maddi Thornton and 240 from freshman Natalie Heltne, and began the tournament with a season-best score of 1,134 pins. O’Fallon finished the first two rounds — six games — with a team score of 5,924 pins. Machesney Park Harlem leads the two-day tournament with 6,293 pins, 70 more than second place Lockport.
Panthers coach Garrett Spencer was pleased with the fast start.
“We’ve got a group of freshmen and sophomores, many of which were nervous bowling in this type of situation for the first time. That’s why getting off to a good start was so important,” Spencer said. “Had we struggled early, maybe we get even more nervous. This way, we relaxed and just bowled.”
Heltne finished with a six game total of 1,238 to lead O’Fallon while Thornton (1,229) and freshman Mary Orf (1,219) rounded out the Panthers top three bowlers.
Collinsville also qualified for the second day of competition with scores of 1,236 pins from senior Madelyn Juenger and 1,228 from Katelynn Wirtel.
Collinsville finished the first day of the state tournament in seventh place with a score of 5,705 pins, 65 pins behind Oak Lawn Richards, which is currently fifth with a score of 5,770.
Two local bowlers in medal hunt
Dupo High School senior Courtney Argus and Waterloo senior Makensy Umscheid are in contention for the individual state title with six games remaining.
Argus had series of 682 and 686 and is in fourth place with a score of 1,368 pins. Jessica Soskich of Buffalo Grove leads with a score of 1,399.
Bulldog senior Umscheid is ninth overall with a score of 1,341. Umscheid had a 298 game to end the morning round as she finished with a 742 series. She shot a 599 in the afternoon session.
The top 12 bowlers are separated by just 84 pins.
Cahokia senior Mary Banks (1,095) and Waterloo senior Kristen Goersch (1,050) also competed on Friday.