Goss: Everybody contributes to Lockport’s boys state bowling title run
By Dick Goss firstname.lastname@example.org January 31, 2013 9:50PM
The Lockport boys bowling team won the state championship Saturday at St. Clair Bowl in O'Fallon. | Supplied Photo
Updated: March 2, 2013 7:42AM
The Lockport boys bowling team was in a zone.
The Porters won the SouthWest Suburban Blue title Jan. 12 with an eye-catching score of 6,746 at Town & Country Lanes. They captured the Plainfield North Sectional on Jan. 19 at AMF Bolingbrook Lanes with a 6,317 total.
That worked out to an average of 224.9 per man per game in conference and 210.6 per man per game in the sectional.
You couldn’t blame coach Jeff Wyatt for staying with his starting five throughout both tournaments, even though his roster is headed by eight capable seniors.
Over the weekend, Lockport took the long ride to St. Clair Bowl in downstate O’Fallon for the state finals.
“The guys were joking about it on the bus going down,” Wyatt said. “The other guys were saying if we kept bowling like we had been that they would not get to bowl. But the way it worked out, everybody got a chance to perform and get their feet wet on the state championship run.”
Individual state champion Shane Matejcak led the way with a 243.7 average for the 12 games as Lockport claimed its first boys bowling state team title. Left-hander Brian Hodolitz (216.8), Alex Wilmsen (210.8) and David Wysocki (205.4) also bowled all 12 games.
However, Wyatt substituted in the No. 5 spot as Jonny Kamba and Larry Novak bowled five games each and Matt Davis and Patrick Karli one each.
It could not have worked out better. A team featuring eight standout seniors, none of whom previously had bowled on the state stage, swept team and individual state titles, and all of them participated. The memories will last a lifetime.
The Porters’ previous best finish was second in 2009, though Kyle Anderson won individual state titles in 2010 and ’11.
“This was double the happiness for the kids, winning as a team and cheering Shane on,” said Wyatt, Lockport’s coach since boys bowling became an IHSA sport in 2002. “They worked hard, banded together and bowled as a team. For that reason, I would say they’re the best team I’ve had.
“I’ve been fortunate coaching at Lockport that I’ve had a lot of talented kids through the years. I had Brian Valenta as a senior the first year. Kyle won those two state titles. I started with talent, and it’s grown each year.”
Matejcak was among the Porters’ top average bowlers all season, with Hodolitz and Wysocki right there. “Our No. 1 went back and forth among Shane, Brian and David,” Wyatt said.
Kamba posted Lockport’s high score in the sectional, followed by Hodolitz and Wilmsen. This team was balanced.
The school and community will show their appreciation for what the Porters accomplished. They will be recognized at halftime of Friday night’s boys basketball game against Homewood-Flossmoor.
A celebratory parade will begin at 1 p.m. Sunday at Richland School and will arrive at the high school for a ceremony at about 3 p.m.
The team will be recognized at the Crest Hill City Council meeting Monday night and the Lockport City Council meeting Wednesday night.
“It is nice to get the winter postseason going for us this way,” Lockport athletic director Brian Goff said. “It was great to see all these seniors cap off their season right.
“Our girls (the 2009 state champions) are bowling real well right now, too. They have a chance to get out there (in Saturday’s Rich East Sectional) and make some noise.”
Bowling may carry the “minor” sport tag, but that is not the case in the Joliet area. People here care about the sport, and the sectionals involving area teams, both boys and girls, are so strong they are viewed as mini-state tournaments.
“If you can get out of the sectional around here, that’s quite an accomplishment,” Goff said. “It’s like most sports in this area. One bad frame or one bad game can really cost you.”
Lockport avoided the pitfalls. While other competitors experienced a drop-off in the stretch run at state, the Porters were consistent, shooting 6,422 for six games Friday and 6,424 Saturday, including 3,221 in their final three. The math for the weekend works out to 214.1 per game per man.
Goff made the trip downstate for the finals Saturday where he joined a throng of Porters’ backers.
“We had lots of family and friends show up to root the kids on,” Wyatt said. “Parents were there whose kids bowled for me in years past and don’t even have kids in the program now.”
They wanted to watch a potential state championship team on the big stage. The Porters obliged.
And despite all the seniors, the beat may continue.
“We’ve got pretty good freshmen,” Wyatt said. “With a few sophomores, I’d say this group, with another year under their belt, they’ll also have a good chance to make a run at it.”