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updated: 1/28/2012 9:12 PM

A second straight second for Vernon Hills

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By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

Like last year, Vernon Hills' boys bowling team was in position to make school history and win a state championship.

This time it came down to the final game at St. Clair Lanes in O'Fallon on Saturday. But Andrew saved its best game for its last one, rolling a 1,196 to give the Thunderbolts their third state title in 10 years.

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Vernon Hills settled for second place for the second consecutive year.

Led by Mike Schmitt, whose third-place effort included a 300 game, Lake Zurich placed 10th.

Vernon Hills (12,652) finished 169 pins back of Andrew (12,821), while Rockton Hononegah (12,575) was third.

Vernon Hills sat 47 pins out of first place going into the final game and rolled a respectable 1,036.

"Our kids bowled well. How can you complain?" Cougars coach Ron Long said. "Andrew almost broke 1,200. They deserved to win it. ... We didn't change our goal all season and came up one place short. It's not that easy to do it. There were so many good teams, and four of them could have taken first place."

Vernon Hills was seeking to win the first team sport state championship in school history.

"We had a lot of ups and downs," Cougars senior David Goldberg said. "We were there last year and put forth a lot of effort this year. Right now, we might be disappointed with second place, but it's still a great accomplishment."

Vernon Hills shot a 3,137 over its last three games and a 3,247 in the morning set of games.

Sam Fink was the Cougars' top individual bowler, as he ended up in 13th place with a 12-game total of 2,636. Fink had games of 221, 221 and 236 for a 678 in the morning. He finished up with a 584 series in the afternoon.

"I thought I could have done a lot better," Fink said. "Things didn't go my way and I did what I could do. I tried to adjust a few things over the last few games.

"It still was an ultimate experience -- a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- and I wouldn't change any of it."

Vernon Hills' other efforts included those of Eric Swanson (18th, 2,636), Alex Winter (27th, 2,529), Goldberg (48th, 2,447), Jeremy Steininger (1,658) and Parish Ashford (803).

Lake Zurich made a big push from last year, going from 10th to third place on the final day. On Saturday, the Bears went from ninth to 10th with a total of 11,992 pins. The Bears had a 2,946 for the first three games and 2,948 over the last three.

"We did finish with one of our strongest games (1,045)," Lake Zurich coach Pete Kupfer said. "We just didn't break 1,100 this year. We were not a power team."

Schmitt, who was the runner-up a year ago, rolled his 300 in the second-to-last game and followed up with a 232. The junior was 27 pins behind tournament champion Joey Kopera of Sandburg (2,733). Herrin's C.J. Kirchner (2,730) was second.

Schmitt also rolled a 300 Dec. 1 against Stevenson at Brunswick Deer Park. It was the eighth 300 game in state tournament history over 10 years.

"I really don't know where it came from," Schmitt said. "I just moved and made some adjustments going into the game. I went flush in the pocket on the first shot and figured I'd stick with it. It just worked out."

Lake Zurich also got contributions from Quinn Nelson (32nd, 2,501), Tony Giannecchini (63rd, 2,355), Max Galarce (2,086), Ben Madura (893), Brent Poynter (796), Chris Orabutt (528) and Mike Wormley (127).

Deerfield's Zach Cole finished in 20th place with a 12-game total of 2,568, and his teammate Aaron Horwitz rolled a 2,379.

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