CHANNAHON – The “Road To Rockford” began Saturday as the state series got under way for girls bowling.
Minooka and Channahon Lanes played host to one of the three regional sites that feed into next week’s sectional at Illinois Valley Super Bowl in Peru. The top four teams and top 10 individuals not on a qualifying team move on to the sectional.
Minooka came in as the heavy favorite and did not disappoint as the Indians easily won the regional title with a six-game total of 6,145. Also qualifying were Joliet West (5,711), Lincoln-Way West (5,630) and Plainfield Central (5,618).
Lincoln-Way East finished fifth, Morris was seventh, Joliet Central eighth, Plainfield South 10th and Lincoln-Way Central 11th in the 13-team field.
Minooka, which took the lead after the first game and never looked back, was led by individual champion Kristina Sickler, who rolled a 1,389. The Indians also had three other bowlers place in the top 11 as freshman Kiara Backstrom was sixth (1,235), freshman Jenna Newton 10th (1,216) and junior Gina Russell 11th (1,206).
“This means a lot to win the team title,” said Sickler, a junior. “The individual title is great as long as we bowl well as a team. That is what comes first. We did this as a group, a team, and we are all best friends. We have such a young team, and Gina [Russell] and I are the old veterans as juniors. We always work together and pick each other up as a group. It was special to win at this house. This is our place now.”
“Each week we continue to get better, and that is what you want at this time of the season,” Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis said. “Especially with such a young team, they have really bought into the process of getting better each week. Kristina and Gina have really taken the leadership role of this team seriously and have matured as leaders.
“Today, we just went out and bowled our game, picked up spares, which is so important because that is where your scoring comes from. Now it’s on to Peru.”
Joliet West dug itself a hole early and had to fight all the way back. After being in eighth place after the first game, the Tigers finally made it into a qualifying spot after Game 5 and bowled their best game in the finale to take the runner-up spot.
West’s Camryn Feehan finished second overall with a score of 1,313.
“It was nerves at the beginning,” Tigers coach Jeff Bailey said. “It was an emotional day and we used everyone on the team. We would have four very good games, but just couldn’t find that fifth. But everyone came together, stepped up when needed. This was a total team effort.”
Lincoln-Way West was hovering around a qualifying spot all day in finishing third. Mackenzie Ullian, a sophomore, finished fourth individually with a 1,258.
“It was a hot mess all day because we had to keep adjusting to the lanes, but these girls fed off each other and we did enough to qualify for next week,” Warriors coach Scott Jablonski said. “I stuck to my original five and they worked well as a team and I’m certainly proud of how they performed and stuck together.”
Plainfield Central started well and was in second place after two games, then had to fight off Lincoln-Way East for the final qualifying spot. In fact, the Wildcats down going into the final frames of the final game but made the shots when they needed them most.
Freshman Ari Guarino led the Wildcats with a 1,246 to finish in fifth place.
“I only have one thing to say about this team,” an emotional Central coach Connie McGrath said. “They stayed together and I’m so, so proud of them. They did this together as a team and that is what got them through the day.”
Advancing as individuals from the area were Olivia Schultz, Cadenz Fitzgerald and Angel Heck from Morris; Cheyanne Sanchez, Angela Juskie and Katelyn Adamitis from Lincoln-Way East; Tara Tindall from Joliet Central, and Sophie Stack from Peotone.