ROCKFORD – It wasn’t pretty, yet it was historic for the Joliet area at the IHSA Girls State Bowling Tournament at Cherry Bowl.
For the first time in the history of the finals, four area teams qualified for the final day, as Minooka placed seventh Saturday, Lockport was eighth, Joliet West finished 10th and Lincoln-Way West was 11th over the two-day, 12-game finals.
Machesney Park Harlem won its second consecutive title and seventh overall. Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg picked up the other two state trophies with second- and third-place finishes.
Individually, two area bowlers earned all-state honors by finishing in the top 12. Lockport senior Bailey Delrose finished third with a two-day total of 2,594 and Minooka junior Kristina Sickler finished sixth with a 2,540.
“Today the conditions were tough, and the pins just didn’t fall my way,” Delrose said. “I would like to commend Harlem for their championship and how well they bowled.
“I’m beyond grateful for my four years as a Lockport bowler. It has been a dream come true to be a part of this program. I’m happy with what I accomplished this season and with my career as a Porter.
“This entire experience has meant so much to me. I’ve improved every year, been a part of great success and want to thank everyone who has been involved over the years. I finished my career with three strikes in the 10th, so you could say I went out with a bang.”
“This feels great, but to be honest, I would have rather the team place in the top three,” Sickler said. “But we are the seventh-best team in the state, the entire team is back, so we definitely have that to look forward to. The conditions were tough and it was frustrating at times when you missed a spare or the pins didn’t fall on a great ball. But this team is together. We are all like sisters and we will work hard to get back here.”
Saturday proved to be a day when not much movement was had by any of the teams. A place here and there was the theme of the day.
Minooka also received a 13th-place finish from Gina Russell, with Kiara Backstrom in 64th and Jenna Newton in 67th.
“This was a roller coaster of emotions along with ups and downs,” Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis said. “But these girls will learn from this experience. Kristina is only the fourth all-state bowler we have had in my 14 years at Minooka. She stayed pretty even through the two days and she bowled well down the stretch.”
Lockport also had Erin Kleffman finish 34th and Jessica Ramirez 61st.
“Our inexperience showed and our spare shooting was terrible,” Lockport coach Art Cwudzinski said. “We missed 48 one-pin spares over the two days. If we pick up just half of those, we finish in second place. We are young and we will be back here.
“Bailey is still the best. She didn’t win today, but in sports, the best doesn’t always win. She has had a phenomenal career, the best I have ever had or seen.”
Joliet West placed two in the top 20 as Camryn Feehan finished 14th and Alexis Robbins 20th. In addition, Barbara Lunsford was 39th.
“This weekend is difficult to explain as it was emotional and exhausting,” Joliet West coach Jeff Bailey said. “The lane conditions really put the coaches to the test. It was a tough pattern and you had to watch every ball because they were constantly changing. But in the long run, I think it was good for the kids. They learned so much about bowling this weekend.”
Lincoln-Way West was in 12th place all day until moving into the 11th position in the final game. They were led by Mackenzie Ullian in 30th, along with Olivia Daujatas (50th), Alexandria Krupske (69th) and Elizabeth Prynn (73rd).
“We achieved our goal of bowling on Saturday,” Warriors coach Scott Jablonski said. “We kept our emotions in check, held it together as a team and made our school proud. We will build on this for the future.”
The area’s only individual who made the cut to bowl Saturday was Plainfield Central’s Megan Allensworth. She tied for 30th.