What a difference a year makes.
Elgin boys' bowling coach Jon Miquelon doesn't remember his team's exact Upstate Eight Conference finish last year but said, "it wasn't good."
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Now it's great. The Maroons are off to a perfect 15-0 start in UEC play after scoring wins over Bartlett, Larkin and St. Charles East. Elgin also won the U-46 invitational.
Elgin notched a recent 3,070-2,941 victory over St. Charles East. In that match, senior Curtis Majka had a 736 series, while Michael Bator, also a senior, had a 628.
Elgin has broken the 1,000-pin barrier in each of its first nine UEC games. Last year, Miquelon said that happened once during the entire conference slate.
In UEC play, junior Lowell Lynde IV leads the team in average at 218 a game. Majka is at 217, while senior Vince Kelly averaged 203. Freshman JJ Meyer averages a 185, while senior Justin Winterroth, new to the team this year, averages 165.
"We knew we would be strong, but we didn't realize we'd be this strong," said Miquelon. "We've really stepped it up in competition."
The reason for this sudden turnaround?
"All the guys worked hard in the off-season and have come back improved," the coach said. "Everybody has had a 10-pin increase over last year. It's been fantastic. The kids have been working their butts off and it shows in what we are doing out on the lanes."
Larkin update: Larkin is 0-4 in duals, but finished second at the U-46 invitational.
Junior Adrian Kyles is averaging 204.2 in UEC action, while junior Bryan Sheridan is at 195.7.
"Our team has good chemistry," said Larkin coach Gail Johnson. "We all can bowl big games, but we need to get better at throwing big games together. We are improving. Once we pick up our spare shooting, we will be tough competition."
Johnson also has been impressed with the development of freshman David Weaver.
"David just got a fingertip-grip bowling ball two weeks ago and has thrown two high games for him of 213 and 220 just last week," she said. "We expect great things from this young bowler."
Larkin competes in the Oswego East tournament Saturday.
Huntley update: The Red Raiders split their first two duals and took 22nd at the Plainfield South invitational.
Junior Beau Rehner had a 256 in the fourth game at Plainfield South. He averages 200 a game. Junior Grant Gardner averages 190. He had a 578 series during the afternoon session at Plainfield South.
"The boys work hard every day to improve their game and our spare percentage has increased because of it," said Huntley coach Brian O'Neill. "We are a good, young team with potential to be great."
Huntley already has equaled its dual-meet win total from a year ago.
"As we continue to improve, it is looking positive that we will finish above .500 this season," said O'Neill. "Last year we only had 2 wins and that might have been due to our young team. This year we are more experienced and more skilled. We practice daily and our scores are better because of that."
The Red Raiders also are benefiting from strong participation numbers this year.
"One of our strengths is the amount of players we have," said O'Neill. "The boys know that only a few of them compete in any give match and the lineup will be made by who is bowling well. This puts a competitive edge on practice and each player wants to strive to be better every day so he can compete in a match."
Huntley bowls in the IC Catholic Prep invitational Saturday at Brunswick Zone in Glendale Heights.
Jacobs update: The Golden Eagles will enter Brandon Biondo this season in the IHSA postseason. The IHSA has opened the opportunity to participate in the state series to boys whose schools do not have a team program.
"Brandon is a very accomplished player," said Jacobs coach Jim Rood. "I'm looking forward to coaching him this year."
Westminster Christian update: The Warriors were 2-2 through their first four dual meets. The Warriors also took second in their bracket at the 48-team Plainfield North invitational. Andrew Howard tied for 11th therewith a 1,328 pin count. Howard also rolled a 729 series in a recent win over Chicago Christian.
Howard is averaging 225.2 per game (high games of 267 against St. Edward and 255 and 258 at Plainfield). Senior Joe Sanders is averaging 173.9. He had a 211 in a match against McHenry.
"We recently switched Joe from conventional to two-handed," noted Westminster coach John Wedell. "We expect his scores to skyrocket soon."
Westminster had been without the services of senior Logan Hopp (school musical) and junior Josh Edwards (broken wrist recovery). Both are back now. Edwards averages 159.7, while Hopp is at 157.9.
"We're enjoying having the whole team back together," said Wedell. "We have very good team chemistry. Everyone is willing to make each other better. When we're hitting our marks we realistically should be up to around 1,000 each game. I expect that we will continue to improve our games to where we have a realistic chance of making it out of the regional and one never knows what can happen at sectionals. We are striving to peak at the end of the season heading into the regional."
Streamwood update: The Sabres are led by junior David Perez and sophomore Jimmy Schoenike.
"We are a very young team with no seniors, but the expectation is that we will be competitive in conference," said Streamwood coach Jeff Szukala.