JOLIET – Minooka boys bowling coach Derrick Rapsky said his team “is still climbing the hill.”
The process will continue in the Lincoln-Way Central Sectional next weekend at Laraway Lanes after the Indians won the Joliet West Regional on Saturday at Town & Country Lanes.
Minooka finished with a 6,110 total. Lincoln-Way Central, which climaxed its bid with 1,036 and 1,088 games, climbed into second place at 6,008.
The other two team qualifiers for the sectional were Joliet West at 5,992 and Lincoln-Way West at 5,903. Lincoln-Way East was sixth at 5,810, Joliet Central eighth at 5,451 and Providence 10th at 5,359.
Reed-Custer also was entered but with only four bowlers.
“When we were first getting started, I said to my assistant coach that it looks like we’ll shoot about 6,150, and we fell just a little short of that,” said Rapsky, who has guided Minooka to four regional titles in five years.
“We have had some success this year. We came a long way. But even though we have three seniors and two juniors in our regular lineup, they don’t have experience in this setting. Last year we had all those good seniors. Most years, we would walk into the sectional feeling good. This year, the sectional will be a beast, we’re still climbing the hill and time is running out.”
Lincoln-Way Central had the individual champion in senior Steven Plane, who shot 1,344 for his six games, a 224 average.
That beat Lincoln-Way West senior Caleb Kirby by two pins. Plane was a model of consistency, with 207 his low game and 247 the high. Kirby opened with 254 and 260 games and finished strong with a 235. A 184 in Game 5 kept him from claiming the title.
“We kept it from him. He had no clue how he stood individually,” Lincoln-Way Central coach Coley O’Connell said of Plane. “It would have been more of a nerve-wracking day for him if we had told him.”
“I tried hard not to look,” Plane said. “I didn’t want to get overexcited.”
Alex Nolan (eighth, 1,242), Trevor Amir (1,162) and Jack Davern (1,157) followed Plane for the Knights. Plane noted how valuable it has been to the Knights to practice on relatively dry lanes in recent weeks.
“We’ve been practicing for Games 4, 5 and 6 all season,” O’Connell said. “Our fourth was horrible today, but 5 and 6 were our best. We kept telling the kids to stay positive and they did what we asked.”
Joliet West, with a regular rotation that includes five sophomores and one junior, led much of the way and was in contention to win the sectional until shooting 857 in Game 6. Kyle Siksta, who opened with a 266 game, was sixth with 1,262, Joey Lizzio 10th with 1,232, Michael Grether 12th with 1,230 and Julian Ramos 21st with 1,164.
“We advanced, that’s the name of the game,” Tigers coach Reginald Lee said. “The kids had to stay focused, stay in the game. Our kids are talented, but they are going through some growing pains right now. It’s only going to get harder, but I hope they learn from today and take it to the next level. It’s all about execution.”
Lincoln-Way West coach Scott Ullian said tournament runner-up Kirby “had a rough game in Game 5 but he came through at the end.” Mike Nork shot 1,142 and Matt Vander Biezen chipped in a 1,034 over five games for the Warriors.
Also topping 1,300 and finishing third was Minooka junior Drew Toke at 1,304.
“Drew has been hurt all year,” Rapsky said. “He was a pleasant surprise today.”
Toke, left-hander whose birthday was Saturday, broke the index finger on his left hand as the season was beginning.
“I started out this season using a 10-pound ball, then 11, 12, 13, 14, right up the line, and today was the first time I used a 15-pounder in a match,” Toke said. “It was hard at first to get used to a lighter ball. My [personal] coach, Tony Talley, helped me a lot.”
In addition to four team qualifiers, the top 10 finishers not members of those teams also advanced. They included overall fourth-place finisher DJ Armbrecht of Lincoln-Way East, who shot 1,296. Providence’s Adam Kowalik and East’s Demitri Przybylinski also advanced with scores of 1,231 and 1,195.
Following Toke for Minooka were Zach Bosman (seventh, 1,248), Tim Frakes (ninth, 1,236) Tyler Koenig (15th, 1,213) and Eddie Wozniak (30th, 1,109).
Frakes is a junior, the others seniors.
“Tim Frakes, a lefty, has been solid all year,” Rapsky said. “He is our top average at 210.”