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updated: 1/22/2014 9:36 PM

Hoffman Estates retains grip on first place

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By Bill Esbrook
Daily Herald Correspondent

Hoffman Estates and Conant have had some spirited battles on the bowling lanes the last few years.

Wednesday night in Arlington Heights was no different for the crosstown rivals.

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The Hawks, led by a 222 game from Brandy Hoglund, defeated the Cougars by a 177-pin margin to cement their hold on first place in the Mid-Suburban League.

Both teams have enjoyed no shortage of success recently.

Conant advanced to the state tournament last season while the Hawks were there the year before. And Hoffman has been a perennial state contender, winning the title in the 2005-06 school year.

"We're a really close team this year," said Hawks senior Melyssa Donovan, who came into Wednesday's action in fourth place in the MSL with a 192.08 average.

The senior's big improvement -- she finished 20th last season -- has surprised even her.

"I didn't expect this," Donovan said, "But I chalk it all up to hard work. I competed in a couple of leagues over the summer and bowled almost every day. I've got a lot of confidence in myself. Last year I was new to varsity, but this year I know how it's done."

Hoffman senior Sarah Wille is fifth individually in conference, Hoglund is sixth and Jordyn Fera seventh, and the Hawks are getting a big boost from a freshman, Amanda Richae, whose 186.96 entering competition placed her 10th.

Richae says she's had no problem fitting in with the talented Hawks, who've earned 74 of a possible 81 points this year to lead the league by a wide margin.

"It's a lot of fun and a great experience," said the freshman of being on varsity, "But there's also some pressure. I feel like I have to live up to the legacy (of Hoffman bowling), and sometimes I feel like if I do bad, the rest of the team might do bad as well."

Richae, who took up bowling at the tender age of 3, also said the she enjoys bowling against Conant because one of her best friends, Angela Anzalone (with whom Richae has competed with in leagues for more than five years) plays for the Cougars.

• Prospect remained in second place in conference by edging Rolling Meadows 5-4 as Arie Upshaw rolled a 602 series (233 game) for the Knights, while a 235 game/620 series from Ariel Cantieri led the Mustangs.

• Elk Grove defeated Wheeling behind Kayleigh Duff's 665 series.

• Schaumburg outpointed Fremd as Sarah Schwind fired a 237 and Emma Wrenn's stellar 254/217/202 line helped Hersey beat Buffalo Grove despite a 239 from Anna Haller of the Bison.

Other scores of note at Arlington Lanes included a 214 game from Fera; a 225 from Lisa Rolden of Meadows; 220 from Gina Rowlett of Fremd; a 171 by Lily Johnson of Wheeling; and a 562 series by Conant's Katie Harrold.

The Cougars were paced by a 216 game from sophomore Angela Anzalone, who agreed with her buddy Richae that Cougars vs. Hawks is usually a battle.

"It's exciting because we know Hoffman always has a great team," Anzalone said, "but we also try to approach it the same way we do against any other opponent."

The sophomore added that one of the goals of her team this year is to return to Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford for the state finals.

"We had so much fun there," said Anzalone, "but we also knew that we had to focus to do the best we could. I think it's realistic that we can get back there this year -- we have bad days and good days, but when we're good we can be great."

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