Bringing home an individual state championship medal would be the perfect ending to Jodi Gawlik's high school bowling career.
Friday at the state tournament at Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford, the Schaumburg senior couldn't have asked for a more "perfect" beginning.
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Gawlik fired her first-ever 300 in the third game of Friday's six-game opening series, and the stellar effort led the senior to 70-pin lead over Natalie Goodman of O'Fallon going into today's final six games.
"I wasn't really thinking if I was going to get it," said Gawlik, who finished second at Rockford last season. "I was just trying to take it one shot at a time."
The senior, who also recorded games of 242 and 240 enroute to a total pinfall of 1,456, said that the further along her 300 game went on, the more nerve-wracking it was.
"When I got to my eighth strike," said Gawlik, "I was thinking maybe this might be the first one. The first shot in the 10th, I started to get nervous. The 11th shot I was more shaky and on the 12th I was shivering."
In the team race, Hoffman Estates and Prospect are both within striking distance of leader Plainfield Central.
The Hawks stand fourth overall, 239 pins behind, while Prospect is fifth, trailing by 285.
"It was a good day," said Hoffman coach Dan Pfligler, who's team was led by seniors Liz Saffold (1,229 series, high game of 253) and Kailey Schlosser (1,226, 269).
"The girls are happy and excited. They know there's no trophy for fourth place, so tomorrow they'll be attacking for third, second or first."
Prospect received outstanding efforts from junior Allison Walsh, who fired a 1,234, while senior Kelly Lawless had a total pinfall of 1,229, including a 257 in the second game.
Elk Grove junior Tedra Tado finds herself in 14th position in the individual race after the first day, recording games of 248 and 244 enroute to a 1,268 total effort.
Marissa Talley of Rockford Auburn is in third place individually, 103 pins behind Gawlik, while Harlem (second) and Rockford Jefferson (third) have a shot at the team crown.
Sophomore Danielle Trevino (1,196) was best for Leyden, which finished the day in 16th place. Junior Shana Rarick (1,165) excelled for Buffalo Grove (18th place).
• Rusty Silber contributed
to this report.