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Minooka girls rolling along familiar path

The Minooka girls bowling team shows off its regional championship trophy last Saturday after taking first place at the Minooka Regional.
The Minooka girls bowling team shows off its regional championship trophy last Saturday after taking first place at the Minooka Regional.

CHANNAHON – When you go on a trip, that journey usually starts from home.

Last Saturday, the Minooka girls bowling team began its trip to the state finals in Rockford at home. The Indians hosted a regional bowling tournament at Channahon Lanes, and their trip started as planned with a convincing regional title. They won by 434 pins over second-place Joliet West. Lincoln-Way West and Plainfield Central also qualified for Saturday’s sectional at Illinois Valley Super Bowl in Peru.

This year’s Indians are a young team, but the expectations always are the same with this tradition-rich program.

“Yes, we are very young, but we come in with the same expectations every season for our program, and that is to make it to the state finals,” Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis said. “All teams are different, but the goals, the expectations and what we do remain the same.”

The experienced veterans of the group are juniors Kristina Sickler and Gina Russell. They are joined by junior Janey Schmidt, sophomore Alyssa Ritchie and freshmen Kiara Backstrom, Jenna Newton, Megan Gillson and Ashley Driscoll.

“Gina and I are the old veterans of the team,” Sickler, who won the regional title, said with a laugh. “We have tried to really help everyone with the concepts and our approach to team bowling. We always try and pick each other up, and it’s just fine to make a spare. Not every ball is going to be a strike. This team has a lot of fun together, and you have to be relaxed.”

Yudzentis knew from the start of the season that his team would be young and somewhat inexperienced, but they are talented.

“We have four freshmen, but they all have solid games and experience,” Yudzentis said. “From being successful in junior high to gaining valuable experience over the summer, they have all bought in to understanding and trusting our process on the high school level.

“Team bowling is a different sport than just going out there and bowling in a tournament for yourself. It’s a different mindset, and everyone has bought in to the team-first attitude. That is one thing Kristina and Gina have really done an outstanding job with this season – become leaders of this team. It’s hard in any sport to take over as a junior, and they have matured and grown during the process.”

The one thing the Minooka program has done during its run of success is use the regular season as a learning experience to get ready for the three weeks of a state run.

“You use the regular season to gain experience, to go through the highs and lows,” Yudzentis said. “You want to stay more in the middle. You never want to get too high or too low, and that is what we have done a good job with this season. 

“This group has worked well together. It’s a very fun group with a lot of different personalities, but they are so together. The success for a team is not to rely on one person to roll that big game all the time. This is a team game, and that is why you have five bowlers. All their scores count.”

With the sectional in Peru and the top four teams qualifying for the state finals, Yudzentis has tried to do his research on a house he is not too familiar with.

“I think I might of bowled there like 20 years ago, but I really don’t remember much about it,” Yudzentis said. “But I’ve done a little research, and from what I found, it is a very good scoring alley. We will go over and practice, but no matter who is in the sectional or how the alleys set up, we just need to bowl our game.

“That is another good thing this team has really learned and done a great job with – forget all the peripheral stuff. You can only control your game, how you do. In the end, it’s up to you.”

The Indians started this trip at home, will drive to Peru on Saturday and then, hopefully, go north to Rockford. It’s a three-week journey that will be completed Feb. 17. All the fuel for this trip has been gathered for the past months, during all the practices, tournaments and experiences along the way.


Minooka Regional: The four Minooka bowlers who toiled in all six games were Sickler (1,289), Backstrom (1,235), Newton (1,216) and Russell (1,206). Joliet West leaders were junior Camryn Feehan (1,313), junior Alexis Robbins (1,175) and sophomore Barbara Lunsford (1,123).

The Lincoln-Way West lineup included sophomore Mackenzie Ullian (1,258), sophomore Olivia Daujatas (1,198), junior Elizabeth Prynn (1,097), senior Alexandria Krupske (1,075) and senior Emily Paul (1,002). For Plainfield Central, freshman Ari Guarino (1,246), senior Megan Allenworth (1,183), sophomore Chloe Cavanaugh (1,138) and junior Aly Bilak (1,104) led the way.

Advancing individuals from the area were Morris’ Olivia Schultz (1,232), Caden Fitzgerald (1,223) and Angel Heck (1,097); Lincoln-Way East’s Cheyanne Sanchez (1,202), Angela Juskie (1,183) and Katelyn Adamitis (1,100); Joliet Central’s Tara Tindall (1,098); and Peotone’s Sophie Stack (1,093).

Bolingbrook Sectional: Senior Bailey Delrose and Lockport rolled to the title in the Plainfield North Regional at Echo Lanes in Lockport. Delrose shot 1,456 for her six games, and Lockport finished at 5,989. Next for the Porters were sophomore Jessica Ramirez (1,203), junior Erin Kiefman (1,167) and freshman Chloe Siezega (1,139).

Plainfield North also advanced, finishing third at 5,447. Individuals for the Tigers were junior Jenna Sussenbach (1,255), senior Bekah Syers (1,110), freshman Rachael Gordon (1,058), senior Ariana Arteaga (1,023) and sophomore Breanna Riley (1,001).

Area individuals advancing were Plainfield East’s Kayla Dench (1,094), Bolingbrook’s Karli Pearson (1,086), Lemont’s Kendra Anifer (1,085) and Brianna Weber (1,061), and Romeoville’s Clorissa O’Brien (1,052).

The Bolingbrook Sectional is Saturday at the Brunswick Zone on 75th Street in Woodridge.

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