Girls bowling state tournament / Northwest preview
What: Girls bowling state championship
Where: Cherry Bowl Lanes, Rockford
When: Today and Saturday
2011 team champion: Machesney Park Harlem
2011 individual champion: Natalie Goodman, O'Fallon (Schaumburg's Jodi Gawlik was runner-up).
Local focus: Leyden will take to the lanes in its second straight finals appearance led by sophomore Reba Hall. Hall posted the best score of any freshman (2,338) at last season's Rockford tourney and heads to Cherry Bowl on a roll this season after winning the the Franklin Park sectional with a pinfall of 1454. The Eagles have no shortage of talent as they look to make inroads toward the top of the 2012 leaderboard; junior Danielle Trevino and sophomore Erika Pimentel have been solid all year. Two time defending Mid-Suburban League champion Elk Grove is back at the finals after a year's absence, and one of the big reasons why has been senior Tedra Tado. She finished fifth individually at Rockford in 2011, was tops in the MSL in average this season (200.10) and took honors at the Resurrection sectional meet. Tado will get a lot of help from another stellar senior, Ashley Dolce, who was third in the MSL and also had the league's top series, a 728. Grenadiers sophomore Kayleigh Duff pitched in a big way at Resurrection by firing a sectional-high score of 1179, while senior teammate Dana Ohm has come into her own late in the year. Hoffman Estates makes another trip to Cherry Bowl off the strength of a thrilling sectional rally. The Hawks were down by 75 pins in the 6th game but overcame the odds to grab the second state qualification at Habetler Bowl in Chicago. Hoffman Estates sophomore Sarah Wille has been a major force, finishing 5th overall in MSL average and she came up huge at Resurrection by firing an 1,127. Senior teammate Brittany Gray also finished in the MSL's top ten while seniors Stacy Mitchell and Sam Hoglund, and sophomore Brandy Hoglund should also make their presence felt.
Local individuals competing: Conant junior Courtney Slavich (186.21 Mid-Suburban League average) claimed her spot at Rockford by bowling an 1,137, including a 239 game, at Habetler, while Cougars senior Sam Pincenti makes the trip after near-misses the last two seasons. Also punching her ticket to state once again was stellar Buffalo Grove senior Mariah McVay, who owns the top game in the MSL this year (279), while Prospect's Ali Mulcahy capps off a standout regular-season campaign with a state tourney trip.
Big picture: In addition to Leyden, Elk Grove, Hoffman and defending champion Harlem, other sectional winners moving on to Cherry Bowl were 2010 titleist Collinsville, Glenbard East, DeKalb, Minooka, Sterling, Belleville West, Antioch, Waubonsie Valley, and Sandburg. Sectional runners-up who were also state qualifiers include York, O'Fallon, Morton, Marengo, Andrew, Moline, Salem, Zion-Benton, Oswego East, Morgan Park and Rockford Guilford.
Players to watch: Harlem junior Lindsey Anderson finished 7th last year and she's back with a vengeance after winning the Oregon sectional with a spectacular pinfall of 1,358. Taylor Rigwood of Vernon Hills, Savanna Meyers of DeKalb, and Waubonsie Valley's Julia Bond could also be at the top of the list when the final scores are counted.
The skinny: The top 12 teams from Friday's first round will advance to the 2nd day of competition, as will the top 30 bowlers not part of the 12 qualifying teams.
-- Bill Esbrook