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updated: 2/21/2014 10:25 PM

Libertyville's state effort comes up short

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By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent

ROCKFORD -- Libertyville's girls bowling team, making its first trip to state in 14 years, had hopes of joining Friday's top-performing squads in Saturday's finals.

And the Wildcats did produce one of their best games of the season with a 1,036, but it wasn't quite enough as Libertyville finished in 20th place.

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The Wildcats' Natalie Zeng, however, will still be bowling on Saturday after advancing as an individual. She made that cut by 3 pins, with 1,187 for six games at Cherry Bowl.

Other bowlers who moved on to Saturday's competition included Metea Valley's Jordan Newham (1,442, third place), West Aurora's Jamie McCreedy (1,273), Dundee-Crown's Karissa Gonio (1,255) and Grayslake North's Sarah Littleton (1,227).

Reigning champion Waubonsie Valley is the tournament's team leader with 6,422. Leyden is second at 6,231 and Machesney Park Harlem is third at 6,081.

Zeng got off to a great start in the morning, with games of 211, 212 and a 235 for 664 series. She struggled a bit in the afternoon set for a 523 series.

"It means the world to me," Zeng said. "I did have a good morning round. I was hoping to keep it up.

"I was really nervous waiting to see if I qualified. To make it make by 3 pins, it's like splitting hairs. It was very intense all day. Words couldn't describe how much I wanted to come out and bowl. I would've liked to have had the team make it to the second day."

Libertyville rolled its best game of the season (1,036) in game three after tossing an 871 and an 884 for a 2,791 series. That left them in 18th place, 95 pins back of the 12th and final qualifying spot. In the afternoon, the Wildcats threw games of 865, 969 and 856 for a 2,690.

"We were down from the morning session," Libertyville coach Lindsey Siegel said. "It was rough and the lanes were drying out. We did have huge game in the morning.

"We have nothing to be disappointed about. We came out here and gave it our all. It's just learning how to adjust in different parts of the lane that they're not used too. There's a much higher caliber of bowler out there."

Emma Davellis also tossed an 1,169 for the Wildcats, with an afternoon set with games of 206, 231 and 214 for a 651 series. Taylor Sloan had a 1,093 with a high game of 235, Kaci Cibrario 1,057, Anne Doherty 668 (four games) and Jackie Garcia 307 (two games).

Gonio was making her first trip into state bowling competition and the first of the school (Dundee-Crown). She started out with a 619 series after games of 237, 182 and 200. Then she rolled games of 226, 245 and 165 for a 636.

"It was overwhelming at first," Gonio said. "I was more comfortable as the day wore on. The lanes got easier and I felt more comfortable, I knew what I had to do."

Littleton's quick start with an opening game 258 and a 674 in the morning got her going for the Knights. Then, she rolled a 553 in the afternoon.

"Morning was better than the afternoon," Littleton said. "I had to grind it out for the afternoon and stay positive."

Newham of Metea Valley managed a 694 for her first three games and followed up with a 298, 213 and 213 for a 724 series.

McCreedy opened with a 654, including a high game of 256, and tossed a 619 for the afternoon.

Waubonsie Valley's Julia Bond leads the tournament after six games with a 1,445 series. She started with 268, 184 and 258 for a 710. She kept the scoring going with games of 258, 248 and 229 for a 735.

"I thought things were good here today," Bond said. "This is a very high-scoring house. I know if I fall behind that someone can take advantage of it. There's a lot of good bowlers here."

The Warriors rolled games of 1,111, 987 and 1,112 for a morning set of 3,210. Then they tossed games of 1,143, 1,1012 and 1,067 for 3,212 in the afternoon.

Other Waubonsie Valley scorers were Rachael Felton 1,285, Talyssa Melgoza 1,283, Sara Barsotti 1,085, Violet Kirk 659 (three games) and Veronica Dreyfus 665 (three games).

"The girls did an excellent job and were able to stay very focused," Waubonsie Valley coach Marty Miller said. "They were calm and never to0 far ahead of themselves."

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