Vernon Hills' boys bowling team had history on its side with an eighth straight trip to the boys bowling state bowling tournament at St. Clair Lanes in O'Fallon on Friday.
The last two years, the Cougars rolled to the runner-up spot. This year, simply making it to state turned out to be a great accomplishment, and Vernon Hills is tied for 18th place with Dixon (5,818 pins) after Friday's action.
Minooka leads the field after the first 6 games with an impressive 6,488 and holds a 50-pin lead over second-place O'Fallon (6,438). Lockport was a close third (6,422) and Belleville East was fourth (6,417).
Eric Swanson of Vernon Hills will be bowling Saturday after rolling to the 25th spot individually with a 1,311. He had a great start with games of 268, 224 and 206 for a 698 and followed up with 193, 206 and 214 for a 613 series.
"Our team didn't make it, but I was grateful to get the team here," Swanson said. "It was good to make it to the next day.
"I started out well, but I didn't think that I was super consistent. I had a nice 268 game with 8 strikes in a row. We were on a good pair. Wherever I put the ball down it went right into the pocket."
As a team, the Cougars started out with a respectable 3,064 over the first three games and were 23 pins and a spot behind Glenbrook North (3,087) in 13th place.
Vernon Hills rolled games of 953, 1,089 and 1,022 for the first three. Then the Cougars shot 885, 949 and a 920 for a 2,754.
"Getting downstate was a big thrill for us," Vernon Hills coach Ron Long said. "Our fourth and fifth games, we were at the high end (of the house). We didn't do anything different from the earlier games. We just didn't have anything to help us. It hurt us and we couldn't recover.
"All the boys will be supporting Eric (Swanson) on Saturday for the final day."
The other Cougars' that bowled were Chris Winter (1,175), Zack Furlett (1,122), Justin Onozato (1,118), Justin Becker (550-3 games), Noah Melcer (381-2 games) and Eric Doerhoffer 161.
Swanson finished 30th as a sophomore and 18th last year.
Another Lake County bowler, Anthony Tometz of Deerfield made it to the final day with a 1,248.