ROCKFORD -- Making her way up the leaderboard wasn't out of the question for Sarah Littleton of Grayslake North on the second day of competition in girls bowling state tournament at Cherry Bowl at Saturday.
She started the day in 37th place and kept her focus on knocking down pins, game after game. She worked her way into the top 20, finishing 42 pins away from a medal.
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Littleon concluded the two-day tournament in 18th place, with 2,553 over the 12 games.
"I thought that I was fairly consistent throughout the day," Littleton said. "I definitely improved a lot from last year. That's what I wanted to do -- and I have one more year."
"There were so many girls that didn't make it here. I have so much to take from this, and there's going to be more opportunities for me."
Littleton came out strong on Saturday, with games of 221, 226 and 236 for a 683 series. She followed up with games of 234, 171 and 238 for a 643 set.
"I needed to stay mentally strong," Littleton said. "I wanted to take my time, because I tend to rush a lot. I set a goal to beat 200 every game. I was close to doing that."
Littleton had the opportunity to bowl in the same set of lanes as back-to-back state champions Waubonsie Valley.
"I was pacing myself with them," Littleton said. "I saw that they were doing well, and I wanted to do well too. I definitely learned a lot from them and looked to see where they were playing."
Natalie Zeng of Libertyville finished 51st with a total of 2,405 after reaching the second day of competition for the first time. She shot a 633 for the first three games with 213, 225 and 195, then tossed 585 in the afternoon.
"I had a great morning round and in the afternoon I tailed off a bit," Zeng said. "I just threw the ball the best that I could. I was trying to focus on the pins."
Karissa Gonio of Dundee-Crown had a consistent day herself, rolling to identical sets of 607. She had high games of 237 and 226.
"It was exciting for bowling on the second day, and I wanted to bowl every game over 200," said Gonio, who's the first D-C girl to compete at state. "Making it to state and the second day was really cool. Being the first one from my school was an awesome thing."
Julia Bond of Waubonsie Valley was the individual champion with a 2,817. Waubonsie Valley won the state title for the second straight year with 12,416; Leyden was second at 12,214 and Hoffman Estates third at 12,164.