Abernathy breaks new ground for Grant boys bowling squad

 
By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 1/21/2017 6:46 PM
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Grant has a relatively young boys bowling program, as the team has been around for just six years.

But over the last few of them, the Bulldogs have taken big strides, with several bowlers coming close to reaching the state tournament.

It finally happened for Grant on Saturday, as Noah Abernathy qualified in the final individual spot from the Vernon Hills sectional held at Brunswick Zone Vernon Hills. Stevenson's Lucas Pinkus also advanced to bowl at St. Clair bowl in O'Fallon on Friday.

"I'm just so excited, and I never thought this would happen," Abernathy said. "I'm just hoping that I can do my best. I've been bowing a lot over the last five years."

Abernathy rolled 1,318 over the six games of competition. He tossed games of 207, 248 and 202 over his last three for a 657 series.

"The lanes were tough and they were drying up so quickly," Abernathy said. "I had to make a lot of adjustments."

Seth Sikkema of Fulton was the top bowler with an impressive roll of 1,401. Others advancing were Mitchell Guzzle of Rock Falls (1,391), Pinkus (1,344), Justin Bragg of Belvidere North (1,337), Matt Fleege of Rockford Boylan (1,334) and Jacob Miner of East Moline (1,321).

Pinkus is the only Patriots bowler who will compete at state.

"I really don't feel good about it -- we worked really hard throughout the entire season," Pinkus said. "I'm happy, but I'm not happy. I wanted the team to come with me, too."

Pinkus had a 297 game, along with games of 247 and 255. But the conditions made it difficult to consistently knock down more pins.

"I would say that the carry was tough, with a lot of ten pins," Pinkus said. "We also had missed a lot off spares, which cost us a lot of pins. That happens, and that's bowling."

Stevenson, the defending state champion, missed its chance to get out of the sectional by 20 pins, finishing with a 5,923 total in eighth place. Freeport was the last of the six teams that qualified (5,943).

Machesney Park Harlem won the sectional with a sizzling 6,441, followed by Rockford East (6,398), Rockford Christian (6,292), Rockton Hononegah (6,291) and Sycamore 6,1092.

The Patriots had a slow start out of the gate, with games of 914, 993 ad 953. They improved from 10th to sixth place with an impressive 1,108 in game four and finished with a 998 and 953.

"There were the No. 1 and 2 teams in the state here," Stevenson coach Cody Mathias said. "I think at least four to five teams from here can make a run for it.

"It was a tough way to go out, because it really wasn't like them. The conditions were tough out there, but I feel we're better than that. We didn't make shots and got some bad breaks. This group is great and could've folded after the first three games. They came out and responded. They did make a run -- they fought for it."

Among the seniors who bowled for the Patriots were Josh and Zach Singer, Gabe Gordon, Michael Bell, Jake Kozak and William Jacob.

Lake Zurich finished ninth, just 2 pins behind Stevenson. The Bears thought they had a good shot to advance.

"It was our goal all year," Lake Zurich coach Mike Sutton said. "I thought this year's team was better than last year's team. To have Stevenson and Lake Zurich not get out was a shock and quite upsetting. We had some nerves at the beginning, and some at the end. We just never got into our groove."

The Bears' lone senior is Connor Kottke; the rest of the team is expected back next season.

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