McKendree University girls bowling coach Danielle Belobraydich was at Cherry Bowl Lanes in Rockford on Saturday watching two of her recruits, Leyden's Reba Hall and Sarah Wille of Hoffman Estates, compete in the state bowling finals.
She saw the two seniors put on quite a show.
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Hall finished just 29 pins away from a state individual title in leading her Eagles team to a second-place state finish, while Wille propelled Hoffman to an unprecentended rally.
The Hawks were in 12th place early but a record-setting team series of 1,188 in game 3 Saturday – the best ever team game in state meet history – helped Hoffman take home the third place trophy.
"It feels great to know we could finish so well," said Wille, who has been of the top Mid-Suburban League competitors the last four years. "We've been calling ourselves the 'Dream Team' this season, and with all the hard work we've put in, it's finally paid off."
Wille rolled a 256 in the third of six games on the final day of the meet, and the other record-setting scores came from teammates Jordyn Fera (248), Brandy Hoglund (235), Melyssa Donovan (227) and Amanda Richae (222).
"We were thankful just to make it to the second day of the tournament," said Wille, as the Hawks just barely qualified to compete again on Saturday. "Then that 1,188 game gave us so much hope."
Wille completed her stellar prep career by posting a 212.7 average at Cherry Bowl over the two-day tourney, good for 19th place overall. Hall finished second, just behind individual champion Julia Bond of Waubonsie Valley.
Waubonsie also won their second straight team title, finishing just 202 pins ahead of the second-place Eagles.
"I'm actually a little disappointed right now," said Hall "I knew if I would have struck out (at the finish) I would have won the title."
"I'm just so happy for our team," added Hall. "It's nice to finally be on the podium."
Hall rolled games of 257 and 229 on the day en route to a two-day total of 2,788, while classmate Erika Pimentel also came up big for Leyden.
Pimentel finished tied for fifth individually with a 2,694 but still had some regrets about Leyden's placement.
"We came here to finish first," said Pimentel, "but we finished second. We wanted to be the first Leyden girls team to win a state championship but it wasn't to be."
Hoffman Estates sophomore Fera fired a 267 game Saturday enroute to a 21st-place finish, while Elk Grove senior Kayleigh Duff, the Mid-Suburban League champion, ended her stellar prep career on high note with games of 230 and 214 enroute to a 29th-place overall finish.
Nicole Lassin (2,530 overall, 257 Saturday) and Ashley Kriston (2,313) made big contributions to Leyden taking home the second-place hardware, while Hoffman's Brandy Hoglund (2,493 over two days) helped push the Hawks to the third place finish.
Senior Marlo Townsend also had a hand in the Eagles' trophy-winning day.
"We've been building to this for four years," said Leyden coach Chris Aylward. "We had a feeling this season was our opportunity, and I couldn't be more proud of our girls."
"They've developed not only physically but also psychologically, and most important of all they're a team. It wasn't just six individuals out there -- they bonded together to form a cohesive unit."
And now coach Belobraydich can't wait for next year, when her new recruits enroll at McKendree.
"They've both got simple, stable games," said Belobraydich of Hall and Wille, "which will translate well to the college game, and they're both very coachable. I'm excited for next season. We're going to have a good year."