Girls Bowling: Minooka has plenty to fight for
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media February 6, 2013 8:30PM
Alison Warwick, of Minooka
GIRLS STATE BOWLING
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: The Cherry Bowl, Rockford
AREA TEAM QUALIFIERS
Lockport: Ashley Hostert (Jr.), Nikki Mendez (Fr.), Savannah Smith (Sr.), Marissa Soverino (Jr.), Megan Szczepanski (Sr.), Nicole Troha (Jr.), Allyson Ware (Sr.), Bri Zabierek (Sr.). Coach Art Cwudzinski.
Minooka: Danielle Grygiel (Sr.), Lexi Jones (Soph.), Emily Koulis (Jr.), Allyson Lakota (Sr.), Nicole Segatto (Soph.), Kortney Sickler (Soph.), Alison Warwick (Sr.), Kayly Windbiel (Jr.). Coach Frank Yudzentis.
AREA INDIVIDUAL QUALIFIERS
Joliet West: Taylor Bailey (Fr.)
Lemont: Kyra Udziela (Soph.)
Lincoln-Way West: Morgan Flaherty (Sr.)
Plainfield East: Kinswana Hubbard (Sr.)
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:39AM
Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis is the first to admit it.
While the Indians should be considered a major contender at this week’s Girls State Bowling Meet, they just as easily could be staying home.
“We’re very lucky, to be honest,” Yudzentis said. “The kids know we didn’t bowl well (at sectionals), but we ground it out in the last game and we got it done.”
Minooka rallied in the final game of the Rich East Sectional to take the second and final berth to state by eight pins over Joliet West. It took West struggling to an 835 in the finale to keep the Indians’ season alive.
The rest of the state likely wishes Minooka would have fallen short. When the tournament — which begins Friday and concludes Saturday at The Cherry Bowl in Rockford — kicks off, the defending state runner-up Indians could be awfully dangerous.
Minooka has three bowlers in seniors Alison Warwick and Allyson Lakota, and junior Emily Koulis who competed in the thick of a title race last season. That experience is invaluable, and no other team has as much as the Indians.
“We’ve been in that position before,” Yudzentis said. “Hopefully, it pays off.”
The Indians have been fueled all year by the number 22, the amount of pins they finished behind Andrew last season.
Koulis said Minooka has now gotten motivation on much deeper level as well.
Michael Assaf III, a math teacher at Minooka, died Jan. 27 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, and Koulis said the Indians dedicated their sectional performance to him.
“Thinking about that really pulled us together for the last game,” she said. “We knew we could do it.”
While Minooka looks to make the leap one spot up the ladder from last year, Lincoln-Way West’s Morgan Flaherty could make history by matching her 2012 performance.
The defending state champion has had an up-and-down season, but she seems to have found her form at the right time.
She captured the individual title at arguably the state’s toughest sectional Saturday, taking the Rich East Sectional crown with 1,386 pins (231) average, 74 more than Lockport’s Bri Zabierek.
Flaherty conceded her focus has been lacking at times this season, and said that’s the key for her to have success this weekend.
“I just have to be really focused on every shot,” she said. “I can’t get ahead of myself. I just have to stay slow and stay behind the ball.”
Flaherty already has her place in Lincoln-Way West history as the school’s first state champion. Becoming the first repeat champion since Rockford East’s Liz Berg in 1998 and ’99 would leave quite a legacy.
“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to win it again,” Flaherty said. “I try not to put that pressure on myself. I know how hard it will be and I just want to do my best.”
Lockport figures to be a major contender in the team race after topping Minooka by 237 pins at the Rich East Sectional.
Zabierek finished 14th last year after qualifying individually. It’s the Porters’ first team state appearance since they won the 2009 title.