ORLAND PARK – A new format was used Saturday at the Southwest Suburban Conference boys bowling championships, but it wasn’t without some controversy and unhappy coaches.
For the first time, it was a winner-take-all format, as the dual meets during the regular season did not count toward a conference title.
In another twist, the coaches did not know whether this championship would be as one conference or split into the familiar Blue and Red divisions. It was announced after the morning three games that it would be split into two divisions. However, the awards were made for a one division championship, so there was a coin flip to see which division would get the awards, with the other receiving theirs at a later date.
After the morning three-game session, Sandburg was in the lead with Lockport in second and Lincoln-Way West third. However, after it was announced that there would be two divisions, the Warriors were the leaders in the Red division.
Those team leaders remained the same during the afternoon’s three games, as Sandburg was crowned as the Blue champions and West won the Red title and finished second overall.
The Warriors outdistanced Bradley-Bourbonnais, 6,175-5,795, over the six games with Thornridge taking third, Lincoln-Way Central fourth and Andrew finishing fifth.
“Switching to coaching the boys this year was tough, but I had the opportunity to coach my son, and both programs are in a little bit of rebuilding, but this makes it all worth it,” West coach Scott Jablonski said. “We had trouble this year winning, and to finally breakthrough, especially going into the state series, is great.
“This is, by far and away, one of the best teams in my 10 years of coaching as far as chemistry and heart. Those two attributes will help win when you may not have the talents as other teams, and I’m certainly proud of these boys.”
The Warriors’ Michael Nork, a senior, took home top honors, not only for the Red division, but overall. He scored 1,465 over the six games and had a high game of 276, with his lowest game being a 234.
“This is fantastic to win as a team and it’s our first in my four years,” Nork said. “We all came together as a team, and each week, it has been getting better especially with the state series starting next week. This really helps our mindset, and our goal since day one is to make it to state as a team.”
“It means a lot to win individually, especially the overall title. It proves that all the hard work I’ve put in over the years has paid off. This isn’t the end, but just the beginning of our journey.”
The top six in each division are awarded all-conference honors, and joining Nork was teammate Naythan McNally, who placed fourth and Central’s Alex Nolan in fifth.
Central is capable of advancing along the tournament trail, as the Knights placed third in the state finals last year.
“We are very inconsistent, but we are also very capable of making another run,” Central coach Coley O’Connell said. “We have to be able to adjust to the lane conditions as the day progresses. The lineup for the state series is not set, and we will have eight bowlers to choose from during the regionals and hopefully beyond.”
The Eagles beat Lockport for the Blue title, with Lincoln-Way East third, Stagg fourth and Bolingbrook fifth.
Sandburg’s Cameron Crowe won the individual Blue title (1,393), as the Porters Evan Pleshar (1,340) finished second. Also earning all-conference honors was East’s Demitri Przybylinski.
“We didn’t know much about what was going on today when we arrived, and coach [Ron] Davis changed the lineup some, but we came out and bowled really well the first game, and that seemed to really help,” Pleshar said. “We really wanted to focus on picking up spares, especially in the afternoon because that makes or breaks your team score.
“Today was the best six-game series I’ve bowled all season, so I’m very pleased. Today makes the state series roster a little harder decision, but this team is close. We all like each other, and it’s as close to a family you can have. So I’m confident going into regionals next week.”