Boys bowling: Lake County preview
Since boys bowling became an IHSA sport 2002, Vernon Hills has had plenty of outstanding bowlers over the years.
The Cougars return this year with experienced seniors Brandon Cervantes (202 average), Jacob Gates (220) and Alex Kouvelas (195) along with junior Nick Schwind (200) and sophomore Joe Napierkowski (205). A couple other juniors Brendan Healey (195) and Noah Kalicki (185). Sophomore Adtiya Sabwaral (170) rounds out the team.
The Cougars have knocked down pins already and reached the 6,000 mark starting the season in the Glenbrook North tournament.
"A number of these kids have been bowling since freshman year," said Vernon Hills coach Ron Long, who has been the only head boys bowling coach at the school (16 years) and has been coaching other sports for 41 years, including football, track and girls golf.
"These kids are getting better and better. We'll be going for it and would like to get downstate once again. We haven't been there in a number of years."
Jacob Gates' older brother Adam was a leader for Vernon Hills a few years ago and expectations are for Jacob, who also plays baseball, to follow in his brother's footsteps.
"Jacob has a good chance of leading the team to state -- good focus, able to adjust and has a lot of talent," Long said. "Being his fourth year on varsity he's had ups and downs in bowling but has been consistent knowing how to be read the lanes. He's been a leader and doing things since freshman year, stepping up being a good influence for the team. He's able to get the other kids in the groove and the others know he's a leader. They look at him and go 'wow', he can throw a ball."
As a freshman, Jacob Gates watched his brother as a senior and now he's in the role as a leader of the Cougars.
"I would always look up to him," said Jacob. "I watched and I always wanted to follow in his footsteps. I just never thought to be one of the leaders on the team. I'm just grateful to be thought as a leader and do anything for this team."
•Libertyville has had back-to-back sectional appearances and should be able to carry on its momentum with many returning experienced bowlers.
"Having this many experienced bowlers," Libertyville coach Robert Sweno said, "we need to continue to improve our consistency making a push for the state meet this season."
One of the biggest leaders is senior Alex Nelson along with other seniors Jason Ross, Devon Hamilton, Nick Formento, Liam Ness, Randy Moss and Cam Edmunds. Junior Derrik Lieding and sophomores Joey Mack and Marc Moss add to the depth of the program.
•Grant would like to take its team to another level this season. The Bulldogs have reached the sectional once so far for a young program, but they could get there this season and even go further.
"Our goal this year will be to qualify for sectionals as a team for the second time in school history," Grant coach Tim Viscioni said, "Experience in tournaments throughout the season should work to help them prepare for the regional tournament in January."
Grant has three returning varsity members -- seniors Tommy Janusz (187), Chase Martin (176), and Tyler Sider (175). In addition, juniors Ian Kupinski (160) and Will March (175) are looking to take the next step. And, freshman Josh Hawkins has started the season on varsity and after two weeks is averaging 206.
The Bulldogs also set a record with an 1,180 game in a match against McHenry early in the season at Raymond's Bowl in Johnsburg. March rolled a 279 which ties him for second place on the all-time list. Janusz added a 275.
•Stevenson has expectations for a long roll this season with a number of bowlers returning to the lanes, led by Nicholas Sternes (208), Joey Gluck (200), Ryan Lerman (195) and Ryan Grabiner (168).
"Something that I expect from this team tis o be very competitive in each match and tournament we attend," Stevenson coach Cody Mathias said. "We have at this point four juniors in our starting lineup and three of them were on the state team from two years ago. One junior is somewhat new to the varsity starting lineup. We also have two juniors and a freshman that will be competing for the final varsity spot. With that being said we have some depth that can help drive our team to be competitive this season. If these bowlers continue to put in the work and convert spares this will help them be successful this season. When the 7 to 8 bowlers push each other and hold each other accountable, then they can be successful this season."
•Lake Zurich had a great season last year, finishing fifth in the state tournament, but the Bears graduated a number of bowlers and need to rebuild a bit. However, don't count out the younger bowlers being competitive going into this season. Jason Morrison and Alex Kouros will lead the Bears.
"This season we have four new varsity bowlers and I expect that we will be competitive, however we will have our ups and downs," said first-year Lake Zurich coach Matt Wilhelm. "We're a talented team, but we have some work to do in order to get into top form. We have great leadership on our team from the returning seniors and we have the character to get where we need to be. To be successful we have to remain focused and calm when things don't go our way. We also need to bowl with confidence as we have the talent to be successful."
•Mundelein may be a young program, but it seems to be growing and building a team aspect very quickly. Senior Nick Prochnow (209) and junior Owen Jones (211) each rolled their way into the sectional last year.
"This season, I expect us to do a lot of growing," Mundelein coach Chris Sweno said. "Seventy-five percent of my bowlers are new to the sport so a lot of this season will be spent on them learning the ins and outs of the sport and developing their skills. In order for them to be successful they are going to need to pick up spares. The strikes are going to come but good bowlers are the ones that convert misses to spares."
Other bowlers for the Mustangs include sophomore Jacob Buyssee (160) along with freshmen Nicholas Proenza, Samuel Gottfriend and Andrew Hamsey.
•Grayslake Central will be working on its game in trying to reach another level. The Rams have three seniors in Miles Pletcher (192), Gursimar Virdi (180) and Cam Porembski (170), along with junior Russ Carcellar (190) and freshman Jaydin Kante (185).
"I expect my bowlers to continue pushing each other, achieving a great level of success," Grayslake Central coach Bryan Dovichi said. "We've set goals each day to continue improving individually. We have a large squad this year and that will breed competition."
•Warren is a relatively young program.
"This will be a rebuilding year for us since we graduated a lot of seniors from last year's team," Warren coach Jim Voutiritsas said.
Ethan Kallen and Joseph Smith return with some varsity experience and can roll some big games for the Blue Devils. Others include Jake Harrison, Emilio Torres, Matt Alcala, Padro Conti and Ethan McDermott, who also played football. .