High School Sports

State is familiar territory for Panthers

If anybody should know what it takes to be successful at Cherry Bowl in Rockford, it should be O’Fallon girls bowling coach Garrett Spencer.

Now in his ninth year as the leader of Panthers’ program, Spencer is making his ninth trip to the state finals after his team placed fourth a week ago at the O’Fallon Sectional.

And if there is one thing that Spencer has learned, it’s that there is no defense in bowling.

“I think that’s one thing that some bowlers and fans get caught up in way too much. They get caught up in what other teams and individuals are bowling, when they should be concentrating on their own games,” Spencer said. “There is no defensive presence in bowling. I can’t stop teams from throwing strikes and I have no control what kind of team scores others are posting.

“My job is to keep the members of this team focused on each shot and helping them either with equipment changes or with their games as we go along.”

Sixth at the state finals a year ago, the Panthers will look to improve on that mark beginning today when bowling begins at 9:30 a.m. In all, 24 teams and 40 individuals from around the state are competing in the two-day event. Round two begins at 1:30 p.m.

Following the first two rounds, the field will be cut to the top 12 teams and top 30 individuals not on those 12 teams, who will compete in the final two rounds Saturday.

Collinsville, which won a state title in 2010 at Cherry Bowl Lanes also is in the field. The Kahoks placed fourth at state in 2014.

Leading the way for O’Fallon is junior Madison Kasza.

The individual medalist a week ago at the O’Fallon Sectional, where she averaged better then 223, Kasza will be looking to improve upon her 10th-place state finish of a year ago.

“I think she’s ready. Madison has been very consistent all season and I know her goal is to finish higher than what she did a year ago. Cherry Bowl is just a normal house shot and the key is finding the right line and then staying with it,” Spencer said. “We have girls who were here and got a taste of the state tounament a year ago. So nerves shouldn’t be a factor.

“Being at the state tournament should be a fun experience for the girls and I want them to have fun and bowl well. The goal is to bowl well enough to be in the top 12, so we can come back and bowl on Saturday.”

Collinsville, which finished second behind team champion Herrin at the O’Fallon Sectional last week, is led by sophomores Zoe Howell and Katelynn Wirtel.

Mascoutah senior Courtney Wombacher is the lone local individual competing.