JOLIET – Town & Country Lanes has 44 alleys to bowl, and they all were occupied by high school girls bowling teams Saturday in the 26th annual Strikefest Invitational, hosted by Plainfield North.
It is the largest and what has become the best girls regular-season invitational in the state. The eventual state champion is in the field, as it has been for the past 12 years. This tournament also gives teams a chance to see what the state finals will be like, with the competitiveness of the field and the usual pressure of the situation.
After the morning three games, the teams are divided into four divisions. The top 12 teams are in the gold division, and their team scores carry over to the afternoon’s three games. The remainder of the teams are put into the silver, bronze and copper divisions and their standings are based only on the afternoon three games. The individual scores are based on all six games.
Minooka led the way for area teams, as the Indians placed second overall with a six-game total of 5,856 behind champion Machesney Park Harlem, which had a 6,086. Joliet West placed sixth, the Lockport Maroon team was eighth and its Gold team placed 11th and Lincoln-Way West finished 12th.
The Indians placed four individuals in the top 22 as sophomore Megan Gillson took 10th with a six-game total of 1,220. She was followed by seniors Kristina Sickler in 17th, Gina Russell in 18th and junior Alyssa Richie in 22nd.
“I’m happy with the day,” Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis said. “We learned a lot from the morning session to the afternoon session because we learned where our focus should be. You have to focus on mechanics and quit thinking about everything else. We made that adjustment and bowled well in the final three games.”
The top area individual finisher was Lincoln-Way West’s Mackenzie Ullian, a junior who placed sixth with a total of 1,250. The top 25 individuals all received a medal.
“It wasn’t as stressful as I thought it would be today and that was because of our team spirit,” Ullian said. “I never worry about my individual place, because it’s always about the team first.”
Joliet West was led by the 14th-place finish of senior Lexi Robbins, and fellow senior Camryn Feehan placed 19th.
“It was a tough day, but a productive day,” Tigers coach Jeff Bailey said. “We learned a lot as a team, especially when we were communicating on the direction of the ball. I really liked what I saw from the team and how they worked together.”
The Porters Maroon received a 25th-place finish from junior Emilie Plashar, with sophomore Meghan Bacys leading the gold with a 45th-place finish.
“We bowled well, especially the first four games, but we had too many bad frames that cost us today,” Lockport coach Art Cwudzinski said. “We had a lot of good shots that didn’t strike, but that’s the game.”
Joliet Central finished the morning session in 14th place, which placed them in the silver division (teams 12-23). It was the first time in program history that the Steelmen placed that high in the morning session. They finished third in that division and were led by the 39th overall finish of senior Tara Tindall.
“Each year we have progressed with this program and today was a big step with getting into the silver division,” Central coach Steve Perion said. “Today was a measuring stick for the girls to see how they stack up, not only in the area, but in the entire state. We are getting there and it’s a work in progress.
Also in the silver division, Plainfield Central finished fourth with sophomore Ariana Guarino placing 20th in the overall standings, Lemont was 11th with senior Kenra Anifer 48th, and Plainfield South was 12th as junior Savannah Magruder placed 43rd.
The bronze division saw Lincoln-Way Central place second, with a freshman Abby Nolan taking 77th place. Plainfield East placed seventh and was led by senior Kayla Dench in 47th. Plainfield North finished seventh in the Copper with senior Jenna Sussenbach placing 11th overall.