Balanced effort takes South Elgin to state
The South Elgin boys bowling team will not knock your socks off with extravagant scores from one or two competitors.
Instead, the Storm gets the job done with a balanced lineup whose sum is much greater than the individual parts.
That team balance helped the Storm arrive at today's IHSA boys bowling state finals in Downstate O'Fallon at St. Clair Lanes. South Elgin was the second and final team qualifier out of last weekend's DeKalb sectional.
Late in the sectional competition, South Elgin found itself in fourth place, but only 20 pins out of first place with one game to go.
"The lanes we were assigned to were very challenging with the depleted amount of lane oil left," South Elgin coach T.A. Wierschke said. "Every shot our fifth man made in the final game felt as though it was the most critical shot of the day."
This is South Elgin's second appearance as a team in the state finals. The Storm qualified in the first year of the program in the 2008-2009 season.
"A lot of the teams we've faced have a really significant bowler or two," Wierschke said. "What's made our team different from the rest is we don't have that one exceptionally strong bowler. We have an exceptionally strong team. All five of our starters come together as a team. It's been a true team effort for us this season. We've lost to teams this year where one or two bowlers shot ridiculously high scores. With us, we're solid all the way around."
Sophomore Jake Brown finished ninth in the Upstate Eight Conference and earned all-conference honors. He averages 204 a game. Senior Gino Riscossa is another all-UEC performer. He finished 11th in the conference and averages 201.
Senior Devin Netzel missed all-conference by one place (he finished in 14th place) and averages a 199. Wierschke says Netzel is being recruited by well-known collegiate bowling program Saginaw Valley State in Michigan.
The rest of the starting lineup features senior Jake Anderson and junior Alex Oden. South Elgin averages 199 a game at the varsity level, the highest average in the program's history. This team also owns the program record for most pins.
The Storm went 40-23 overall and finished in the middle of the pack at the UEC tournament (Anderson did not bowl in the varsity conference tournament). But again, depth has prevailed.
"This is a solid and consistent team," Wierschke said.
Wierschke adds the scene at the sectional once the team found out it had qualified is one he will remember for quite some time.
"Once we did the math and figured out we were going to state, it was like in college basketball when the fans storm the court," he said. "It's such a dream come true."
Wierschke felt the program was headed toward something memorable when the current senior class arrived as freshmen four years ago.
"When Devin, Gino and Jake came in, I knew there was something special," he says. "It just took some time to develop that talent to get where we are at now. It's like we circled the date of this year's state tournament on the calendar four years ago. From that point, we knew we were on to something."
Bartlett's Dustin Kram and Streamwood's Jacob Counter also qualified for state as individuals.