O’FALLON – The Minooka boys bowling team finished third at the IHSA State Finals on Saturday at St. Clair Bowl and became the first area boys team to win back-to-back state trophies in the sport.
Joliet West finished ninth and Lockport placed 10th. Tt was the first time since 2015 that three area teams placed in the top ten.
The Indians were in fifth place after the Friday six-game session and then used a strong fifth game (1,092) Saturday to position themselves in third place. They came back with a 1,090 sixth game and finished only 13 pins behind Vernon Hills in second place, as St. Charles East won the title.
“I felt very good about how we ended Friday and the position we were in,” Minooka coach Derrick Rapsky said. “We started [Saturday] well, but the guys were down after the fourth game, and I told them, ‘You are still in it because no one shot well,’ and then they came back and put it together the last two games.
“I thought a trophy was possible, and we just had to go out and do our thing, and these kids did that today, and this is pretty awesome.”
Minooka was led by the All-State performances of sophomore Efrain Soto, who tied for second place (2,772), and sophomore Brandon Caruso (2,663). Soto becomes the top individual finisher in school history and the first to gain All-State honors twice, as he was fifth last year.
“Being All-State for [Soto and Caruso] is fantastic,” Rapsky said. “I know Efrain is a little down about missing a pin that would have given him an outright second, but it’s the best in school history, and Brandon didn’t have his best weekend, but it was good enough, and I’m happy for both of them.”
The other area bowler to achieve All-State status by finishing in the top 12 was senior Alex Nolan from Lincoln-Way Central, who tied Soto for second place. His second-place finish also tied the best ever from Central, as Steve McNellis placed second in 2008.
“I’m excited right now,” Nolan said. “That last game I knew where I was at, and I just concentrated on every shot like it was my last. My goal coming in was to make All-State, and I think the experience of being here in previous years helped me today, and this is a great way to finish my high school career.”
Aidan Healy, a sophomore from Lincoln-Way West, was 13th, only two pins behind 12th place. Joliet West was led by the 24th-place finish of senior Kyle Siksta (2,565) and the 25th-place finish of senior Julian Ramos (2,562). The Porters received a 22nd-place finish from freshman Jason Laba (2,557) and a 34th-place finish from junior Jimmy Kontos (2,527). Plainfield South sophomore Braden Kidd (2,480) was 45th.