Minutes after winning medalist honors at the O’Fallon Bowling Sectional on Saturday, O’Fallon junior Madison Kasza said her goal for the state tournament next week in Rockford would be simple.
“I just want to have fun and bowl the best that I can bowl,” Kasza said.
Kasza made sure the rest of her O’Fallon teammates would also have fun next week as she took advantage of the Panthers’ home lanes by averaging 224 for her six-game block as she helped lead O’Fallon to a fourth-place finish at St. Clair Bowl.
One of the top bowlers in the Southwestern Conference, Kasza started out with a 703 series in her morning session. She then used a 257 game to wrack up a 641 series in the afternoon as she finished her day with 1,344 pins. That total was 39 pins better then Alton senior Erika Gram, who finished with a 1,305 total.
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With Kasza and senior Alexis Toohey (1,141) and junior Lanie Goldberg (1,118) also enjoying solid peformances on Saturday, O’Fallon finished with a team score of 5,720. The Panthers thus grabbed the fourth and final spot to earn a trip to the 2015 Girls State Bowling Tournament. The quest for a good state showing by the Panthers begins Friday. The two-day state extravangza will be held at Cherry Bowl in Rockford.
Herrin (6,010) won the team title, while Collinsville (5,767) and Salem (5,746) also will move on to compete in Rockford. Alton (5,714) missed out on a trip to the state finals by just six pins.
Moving to state as individual bowlers were Erika Gramm, of Alton, and Mascoutah senior Coutrney Wombacher (1,272).
O’Fallon coach Garrett Spencer got an early glimpse of Kasza on Saturday and that she was on target from the get go.
“Coming out with what I think is her fifth 700 series of the season in the morning session and then she started out the afternoon with a 257. That’s pretty good,” Spencer said.
He knows what he wants for his Panthers at the state tournament.
“My goal for the kids at state is to enjoy themselves and just go out, have fun and bowl to the best of our ability,” Spencer said. “We can’t control what the other teams are bowling.”
Collinsville, the 2010 state champions, earned yet another shot at the state tournament with a solid effort on Saturday. Led by sophomores Zoe Howell (1,274) and Katelynn Wirtel, the Kahoks were in the race for the title all day.
“We struggled early in the day, but we were able to adjust and move on,” Kahoks coach Sean Hay said. “We had a little trouble today with our spare shooting. I think we missed maybe 10 1-pin spares, but part of that was that we didn’t have the right equipment. Maybe we can address that next week before we leave for Rockford.”
Hay has a single goal for his squad as it begins its quest for a second state championship.
“Our goal for state is to simply get into the second day of the tourament,” Hay said. “If you do that, anything can happen with six games left.”