Leyden coach Chris Aylward says he hopes his team can "continue with our success from last year."
With his returning cast of stellar bowlers, that shouldn't be a problem.
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The Eagles return their top four competitors from last season's standout team that finished sixth in state.
Leyden is led by junior Reba Hall, who was third individually at the state tourney last season. The dynamic Hall, now a junior, knocked down 2,671 pins at Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford to score a 12-game average of 222.6 at state. Her pinfall was only 94 away from an individual state championship.
Joing the junior on the lanes for the high-flying Eagles will be sophomore Ashley Kriston, who was the top freshman at state last year with a 208.4 average.
Seniors Jeanette Treto and Danielle Trevino, Juniors Nicole Lassin and Erika Pimentel, and sophomore Nicole Pitsenbarger complete the talented Eagles roster.
In the Mid-Suburban League, defending league champion Elk Grove lost some stars to graduation, and they'll be led into battle by first-year coach Jason Svehla. "I think we'll be very competitive this season," says Svehla. "I look forward to challenging our competitors in conference and sectionals." The top three bowlers for the Grens in the coming campaign will be Abby Nix, Kayleigh Duff, and Brooke Barges. Elk Grove qualified for the state tournament last season and just missed moving on to the second day of compeition after a heart-breaking rolloff that saw the Grens finish just one spot out of advancement.
Other East Division contenders include:
Prospect, which was second in the league last season. The Knights were only 39 pins behind the Grens when all was said and done, and although four graduated from that stellar squad, Prospect returns senior Samantha Victor and junior Meghan Mulcahy. "Those two will be looked to for leadership in the upcoming season," said Prospect coach Greg Troyer. Seniors Kayla Jagus and Noelle Johnson and juniors Kaitlynn Bieber and Nicole Cusack should also be impact players for the Knights.
Rolling Meadows has high hopes not only for seniors Phoebe Kim and Sarah Caprio, both of whom have been on varsity since their sophomore seasons, but also a gifted group of incoming players whose JV team was second in the league last season. "We've got some impressive bowlers coming in," said Mustangs coach Karen Ellingsworth, a former star on the Ladies Professional Bowling Tour and winner of the U.S. Open. Jenny Klutts, Caitlyn Wooten and Maury Contreras are among the up-and-comers for the Mustangs.
Buffalo Grove coach Jean Tripam says the Bison are in a "rebuilding year," but don't count BG out as senior Anna Haller is back for another season. Ashley Palacios, Kimmy Koblas and freshman Joanne Savage all look to contribute to the Bison effort.
It looks to be a solid year for Wheeling as the Wildcats' roster will include seniors Samantha Nowry, Cailey Markiewicz, Aline Bardak, Rebecca Falkiner and Heather Hok, and juniors Maryssa Peterson and Kristina Malder. "All seven of our girls can pop 200-plus at any time," said Wheeling coach Beth Anderson. "We're looking to be competitive in the top half of the MSL, and I feel that our seniors are capable of leading us into the top third. They'll just need to feed off each other and challenge each other."
Junior Marie Spychala and Sophomore Delanie Steinweg are locks are the top of the Hersey roster. The Huskies, coached by Julie Arias, have no seniors this season but have also added a record 16 new bowlers to the program.
In the MSL West, Hoffman Estates looks to build off last year's third-place league finish and state tournament trip. "We have two returining players in Sarah Wille and Brandy Hoglund," said Hawks coach Dan Pfligler, "and a few others bowling varsity for the first time so we look to be competitive. Our goals are to finish top three in conference and qualify again to state."
Conant will be a major force in the West behind senior Courtney Slavich, who scored a top 10 individual performance in the league and was a state qualifier last season. Slavich is one of the few varsity returnees for the Cougars, however, and coach Jennifer Mikrut says they'll be "starting over" this season. "We missed going to state as a team by just 8 pins last year," said Mikrut. "Our goal this year (in the MSL) is to place in the top three and be consistent and competitive." Annie Witt will also come back to provide a spark.
Barrington is a recent addition to MSL play but the Fillies have been improving year by year. They boast a senior-dominated lineup and coach Sam Raia says that Emily Troxell and Jaclyn Moncek should lead the way. "We want to improve as the season goes on to compete with the rest of the conference," said Raia. "Last season was the best in our history but we hope to come together this year and meet our expectations."
Palatine will start they year with a tough schedule, but coach John Burke is looking for improvement from his young squad. "Right out of the gate we get Schaumburg, Hoffman and Prospect," said Burke. "So it'll be difficult from the get-go, but to be honest I am not sure how good each team will be this year. We hope to be more consistent and I look for us to keep improving after finishing in the middle of the pack last year. We've got the luxury of having a lot of good players that we can shuttle between JV and Varsity." Katie Conrad, Abby O'Brien, Anna Lessner, Kayla Ure, Rachael Taylor, Vanessa Canino, and Kaitlin Rotes look to excel for the Pirates.
Schaumburg, a perennial standout team, will return varsity bolwers Sami Hansel, Tiffany Schwartz and Shannon Maiers. Mark Kelly is the long-time coach.
Fremd is hoping for good things from a lineup consisting of Kayleigh Burnitz (Top 15 in the MSL last year), Brooke Leahy, Gina Rowlett, Melanie Shaffer and Jenna Wallace. "We've got some new bowlers on the varsity level," said Vikings coach Deb Pietrucha, "so we're looking for consistency -- hitting the same mark every time, and bowling the same way every time. We're also looking for consistency on our spares."