Poetker powers Stevenson downstate
Only a 6-pin denied Matt Poetker perfection.
The Stevenson bowler settled for a 299 in his fourth game Saturday as part of the Stevenson sectional at Lakeside Lanes in Mundelein on Saturday. After he rolled his final ball, he couldn't even watch it spin down the lane.
"It was something to experience," said Poetker, who had a 300 game two years ago, but not in high school competition. "It really gave the team the push it needed. I got really nervous on the last shot. The ball stuck on the thumb. Whatever happened, happened at that point. I really didn't look. I had my eyes closed."
Stevenson had highlights other than Poetker's 299 game, as the Patriots qualified for state for the first time along with five other teams. Harlem won the sectional with one of the best 6-game pinfalls (6,552) in the state. Rockton Hononegah was a close second (6,537). Stevenson took third place (6,215), followed by St. Charles East (6,027), Lake Zurich (5,983) and Freeport (5,960) in the 16-team field.
All six teams will compete in the state tournament beginning Friday at St. Clair Lanes in downstate O'Fallon.
"We're a strong team and kept going," Stevenson coach Barry Lapping said. "At first, we were thinking that this was a dream. But now our expectations are a little bit higher. Hopefully we can make some noise down there. These guys can do anything and aren't intimidated by anyone. You never know if everything falls into place."
Stevenson's fourth game was its best, as the Patriots rolled a 1,164. They also broke 1,000 in their three other games (1,097 and 1,011 twice). Zach Singer led Stevenson with a series of 1,394. He finished runner-up to Harlem's Jacob Nimtz, who shot a 1,474. Stevenson's other contributors were Richy Zenner (1,301), Poetker (1,278), Ted Tapas (989, 5 games), Josh Singer (529, 3 games), Eddie Mandrala (364, 2 games) and Michael Aranyi (2 games).
St. Charles East also will be making its first trip to state. The Saints started out the day strong with games of 1,060, 1,003 and 1,065 for 3,128. They finished with games in the 900s.
"It's absolutely amazing and this team deserves it," St. Charles East coach Steve Dessauer said. "Every team we've had in the past deserves the opportunity to go to state. We're just happy to make it with a lot of competition out here. It feels good that we qualified."
The Saints were led by Aaron Mudlong with a 1,287. His brother Dean followed with a 1,272, while Dom Straus (1,218), Robert Olsen (1,162) and Cole Cartee (1,188) also aided the team's cause.
Lake Zurich qualified after missing the last two years. The Bears stayed consistent for most of the day with games in the high 900s and one at 1,092.
"This was an exciting sectional with a lot of good teams here," Lake Zurich coach Peter Kupfer said. "We were expecting to finish in fourth, fifth or sixth and (fifth) is where we ended up. I believe that we're peaking at the right time. We've bowled our best bowling at regional and in the sectional. We're adjusting and getting deep in the lanes. We really have an exciting team to watch."
Donny Gross led Lake Zurich with a 1,309, followed by Ben Madura (1,234), Connor Kovanda (1,214), Zach Johnson (1,127), Connor Kottke (560, 3 games), PJ Waul (372, 2 games) and Tommy Keefe 170 (1 game).
Jacobs' Brandon Biondo reached state for the second straight year. He posted a 1,351 series with high games of 247 and 244.
"Mentally, it's easier," said Biondo, who won the sectional last year and finished second in the state. "Physically, it's all grueling. I felt like I grinded all day. I didn't miss a spare all day. That really was the key."
Elgin's Lowell Lynde found his way to state for first time. He rolled his way to a 1,348 after starting his day with a 288 game.
"I have been close the last few years." Lynde said. "I finally got over the hump. I started out strong and I was able to maintain my scores. I just want to keep bowling well and make my spares."
Other qualifiers included South Elgin's Jake Brown (1,315), Rockford Lutheran's Aleksander Zajchowski (1,294), Vernon Hills' Jacob Stern (1,287), Rockford Jefferson's Alex Shaver and Rochelle's Steven Dernoff (1,278).
"I'm speechless about all this," said Stern, who assured the Cougars will be represented at state for the 12th straight year. "At the beginning of the season, I really didn't think that I would make it this far. But I did make it and thanks goes to my coaches, Coach (Ron) Long and Coach (Bill) Spigner."