Mid Suburban League girls bowling meets had been held at AMF Rolling Meadows Lanes for as long as anyone could remember -- at least 20 years, and probably quite a bit more.
So when Palatine junior Katie Conrad learned there would be change in venue this season due to the closing of AMF, she decided not to leave anything to chance.
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"I practiced here about four or five times a week over the summer," said Conrad of Arlington Lanes, the MSL's new home in Arlington Heights.
All the extra preparation paid off as the junior fired a 602 series -- the second best score of the night -- including a 212 game right out of the box.
"Great opening night," said Conrad, who said that the lanes "change faster" at Arlington.
"You've got to make adjustments here," added the junior. "It goes from oily to dry quickly, so you've got to find your mark as soon as you can."
Anna Lessner added a 500 series for the Pirates, who started with an 814 in the first game but couldn't hold off West rival Schaumburg.
Sami Hansel knocked down 542 pins as the Saxons edged Palatine 5-4, with only 68 pins separating the two teams. Hoffman Estates defeated Prospect by the same mark (2,609 pins to 2,550); and Rolling Meadows won over Barrington.
Senior Phoebe Kim led the Mustangs with a 541, which included a 216 high game.
"It's a fun place," said Kim of Arlington, " but it's also a little bit more unpredictable. These lanes seem to leave a lot of 10 pins hanging -- I swear tonight the 10 pin was glued to the floor."
The Mustangs' trip up to the new locale takes quite a bit longer than it used to on the drive to AMF, only minutes away, but Kim says there's a upside to that.
"We all get to ride on the same bus now," said the senior. "We used to take the little white bus in the past and make two trips -- one for the varsity and JV teams and one for the frosh-soph -- but now we get to ride the big yellow bus."
Jenny Klutts added a 490 for Meadows, while Hoffman Estates junior Sarah Wille -- fifth in the MSL last year -- had the evening's high series (622) and game (237).
Brandy Hoglund added a 585 (208) for the Hawks.
Kayla Jagus (533) and Nicole Cusack (530) paced Prospect; freshman Joanne Savage rolled a 482 to lead Buffalo Grove's win over Wheeling; Brooke Barges finished with 528 and Kayleigh Duff 545 as Elk Grove beat Fremd (Kayleigh Burnitz, 529); while Conant outpointed Hersey.
The Cougars' Courtney Slavich fired a 216 game and ended up with 571 pins while Hersey's Delanie Steinweg, only a sophomore, had games of 226 and 183 and finished with 572 pins knocked down to lead the Huskies.
Steinweg's take on the new venue was a bit more about asthetics than conditions.
"The lanes are lower (as compared to the viewing area), so it's harder for the parents to see us," joked the sophomore and second-year varsity player, who said she's taking on more of a leadership role this season.
Steinweg's best-ever score came last year on the Arlington Heights lanes in a tournament.
"I had my high game here, and as you can see from the scores tonight, I like it here a lot."