The (Machesney Park) Harlem Huskies and (Rockton) Hononegah Indians led the way during the first day of the IHSA boys state bowling tournament.
Harlem averaged 216.3 per bowler on Friday and has a 66-pin lead over their NIC-10 rivals with six games remaining.
Ranked among the top three teams in the state for much of the season, both the Huskies (6,488 pins) and Indians (6,422) are being challenged by (Lincolnshire) Stevenson (6,354), O’Fallon (6,351) and Lake Zurich (6,313). The top five teams are seperated by only 175 pins.
“I said coming into the state finals that there were 10 teams who could win it. With five teams that close with six games left its going to be a fun day on Saturday,” O’Fallon coach Mike Imes said. “It’s going to come down to whichever team is able to get hot and then is able to make the proper adjustments when the lanes breakdown in the afternoon.”
Third round action at St. Clair Bowl begins at 9:45 a.m. Saturday with the fourth and final round set for 1 p.m. Tickets are $10.
Jacob Nimtz led first pace Harlem with an average of 248.2 for his six game block. Nimtz’ total of 1,489 pins is 18 better then Tom Ochal of Niles Notre Dame (1,471). Ochal averaged 245.2 on Friday.
O’Fallon junior Justin Hess is third at 1,393 after averaging a 232.2 on Friday while Triad bowler Gavin Pisetta (1,389) and Richy Zenner of Stevenson rounds out the top five bowlers with a score of 1,385.
Second place Hononegah was led by Brandon Mooney, who is sixth overall with a total pin count of 1,384.
“What would it take to win it tomorrow (Saturday). I would take my chances with a 6,500,” Imes said. “We bowled well today and we’re in contention. We just need to get all five bowlers on track at same time. Today (Friday) we had games where we had three and four bowllers on track, btu we just couldn’t get that fifth score. Hopefully we can on Saturday.”
Also qualifiying for the final day of competiton were (Frankfort) Lincoln-Way North (6,246), Minooka (6,242), St. Charles East (6,213), Lockport (6,188), Plainfield North (6,169), Collinsville (6,078) and Niles Notre Dame (6,057).
Collinsville’s journey to the final day was a bumpy one to say the least. The Kahoks school bus arrived late to pick them up and when finally getting to St. Clair Bowl it didn’t get much better as the Kahoks found themselves well down the leaderboard after the morning session.
But led by Clayton Hartman (222.7 average), the Kahoks rallied in the afternoon session. In 14th place with one game to go, Collinsville rolled a 1,045 game to move past three teams and into the second day of competition.
“To say we got off to a slow start would be putting it mildly. We just didn’t adjust,” Kahoks coach Sean Hay said. “I think we were a little frazzled by epside with the bus being late and while we told the kids we had time to warm up, you find yourself still rushing.
“We bowled better in the afternoon and if we are fortunate enough to get into the final day, that was one of our goals.”
O’Fallon and Collinsville were the only local teams to move into the second day. Alton placed 18th with a score of (5,821), followed by Civic Memorial (5,819). Cahokia was 21st with a score of 5,761.
Moving on as individuals were Lucas Pejakovich of Alton (1,367), Kyle Brewer of Cahokia (1,281), Malik Ballard of Belleville West (1,259), Cameron Touchette of Columbia (1,245) and Jacob Trockler of Civic Memorial (1,236).