Not an easy road to state : Sports : Oswego Ledger-Sentinel : Hometown Newspaper for Oswego and Montgomery, Illinois
|Not an easy road to state |
|Panthers, Wolves embark upon difficult Bolingbrook Sectional |
|by Matt Daniels|
The harsh reality has arrived for the Oswego and Oswego East girls bowling teams.
Both the Panthers and Wolves could shoot well in the 18-team Bolingbrook Sectional, and still not advance to state.
Such is life for those two squads when they embark upon AMF Lanes in Bolingbrook at 9 a.m. this Saturday. Only the top two teams will advance to Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford for the state finals, and that is true for all 12 sectionals that will take place statewide this Saturday.
"There's going to be two or three coaches very frustrated about this sectional and unfortunately those coaches that are going to be frustrated are going to finish third, fourth and fifth," Oswego East head coach Jeremy Hillman said. "Then they're going to go online - and I'll probably do the same thing if we finish there - and see that we would have gotten out of (say) nine out of the other 12 sectionals."
Oswego head coach Dan Okoren said he knows what is possibly in store for this Saturday.
"Our goal for the day is obviously we'd love to get to state, but we just want to shoot well," he said. "We want the girls to know that even if we shoot very well on Saturday, we may not get out."
Oswego shot very well last Saturday in the Southwest Prairie Conference Meet, held at Echo Lanes in Morris, and had the highest pinfall of the eight schools there with 6,194.
This allowed the Panthers to finish second overall in conference with 86 points, only behind league champion Plainfield Central (112), based on points compiled during regular season dual meets added in with last Saturday's pinfall.
Oswego East, meanwhile, dropped a place in the final standings by the time last Saturday ended.
The Wolves had a pinfall of 5,838 to place third but wound up fifth in the conference race with 58 points.
Plainfield South (68) and Minooka (64) finished above the Wolves while Plainfield North (22), Romeoville (6) and Plainfield East (4) rounded out the team standings for the season.
With seven of the eight SPC schools at this Saturday's sectional, along with stalwarts like Waubonsie Valley, Lockport and Neuqua Valley, among others, Okoren is anxious to see how his squad will fare.
"We definitely have momentum on our side and that's a positive thing," he said. "I also know because of how well we shot at conference, that's more motivation for those other teams to prepare their butts off all week. It's not going to be easy, that's for sure."
Oswego had three individuals earn All-Conference awards last Saturday. Junior Tara Wagner (pinfall of 1,286) placed sixth while freshman Cheyanne Valdez (1,258) was seventh and junior Courtney Petoskey (1,249) was eighth.
"I think it's just they've developed a mental toughness and they grind it out when they have to grind it out or they're hitting the pocket and leaving spares to shoot," Okoren said of the trio. "They've been covering their spares and they've just been consistent. That's what we need from all these girls so hopefully that continues this Saturday."
Junior Emma Gorman (1,215), senior Breanne Vergonet (1,186) and sophomore Rachael Tackitt (1,045) also came through with solid rounds to balance out the efforts of Wagner, Valdez and Petoskey.
Like Okoren alluded to, last Saturday's performance will most likely make other area teams sit up and take note of the Panthers this Saturday.
"The thing that was working for us was we were positive all day and we were feeding off of each other," he said. "We were consistent. We were all going together (and) we were like a well-oiled machine. We bowled very well and it's definitely huge going into this week where our confidence is up.
"We just have to keep in mind though that everybody is gunning for us now a little bit, too, where the focus has not necessarily been on us in the past."
The focus has normally centered on the Wolves this time of the season in recent years. The same does not hold true this February, given some of the squad's struggles in tournaments this year.
"The pressure's not on us," Hillman said. "We don't have eyes staring at us and what are we going to do. Unfortunately, because of our bad play, we've alleviated a lot of that pressure. The pressure is on a Plainfield South or a Plainfield Central or an Oswego, who's really clicking right now, for them to make sure they go onto that next level."
Senior Allison Hoffman enjoyed a superb SPC Meet, placing fifth individually with a pinfall of 1,286. Senior Samantha Donzelli also came through nicely with a 1,203 pinfall.
"Allison Hoffman, she's been one of our most consistent bowlers all year," Hillman said. "I am so proud of that girl. She has worked so hard. Samantha Donzelli, who had a lot of pressure on her from the finish she had at state last year at the beginning of the season, she's really starting to get in her own a little more."
Junior Brenda Neid (1,135), sophomore Tricia Thornton (1,135) and junior Grace Jacobs (1,121) also chipped in last Saturday for the Wolves.
"There's a lot of positive things individually but you can ask my girls and hopefully they'd say this, but individual accolades really don't mean much to them," Hillman said. "We're only as successful as the team, and that's what we really want to try to do."
Hillman said he anticipates having to shoot around a 6,100 pinfall this weekend to make it out of sectional competition. The Wolves have not hit that mark yet in a tournament setting this season, but have the potential to do so, making Hillman unsure about exactly what to expect from his team on Saturday.
"I'm expecting to be surprised," Hillman said with a laugh. "We still have not got all of them going at once so from a coaching standpoint, it's a little frustrating to see us not living up to our potential right now but it's enlightening to know we still have another weekend to get it all to click. We're definitely not peaking early.
"If we get beat, I just really, really hope that other schools beat us and we don't beat ourselves."