After going undefeated in conference play all season long, it did not come as much of a surprise last weekend when the O’Fallon High boys bowling team had no problems mopping up the competition at the regional tournament.
Hoisting the top honor is not a new feeling for the Panthers, who have had one of their most successful seasons in school history during their 2015-2016 campaign.
On Saturday the team was over 400 pins ahead of their closest competition. The Panthers averaged a series score of 1154.3 and knocked down 6,926 pins. Belleville East finished in second place at the tournament and were 423 pins behind O’Fallon.
Head coach Mike Imes was more than pleased with the teams win.
“After a couple games it was pretty close and there were numerous teams hanging in there with us,” said Imes. “Our goal was to get through the regional and winning it was a big plus. The guys bowled phenomenal and for them to keep this pace up all year is unreal.”
Four Panthers bowled their way into the top five individual scorers of the whole tournament. Junior Andrew Orf led the Panthers and the tournament with a 1497 series score. Fellow junior Mathew Toohey finished in third place overall with a 1396, while senior Bradley Solomon ended up in fourth with a 1390. Junior Josh Bradshaw claimed the fifth place spot with a 1374 series and senior Justin Hess rounded out the Panther scoring with a 1269.
Before claiming the regional title, the boys finished up their conference play with three regular season conference victories over Belleville West, Edwardsville, and Alton. The three quick wins gave the Panthers momentum that proved beneficial in the regional finals.
“Having three matches versus regular practice helped keep us focused. You can lose on any given day and having those challenges helped the guys going into the regional,” said Imes.
This weekend the team will participate in the sectional tournament at Bel-Air Bowl alongside Belleville East. With a chance to practice on the lanes at Bel-Air on Thursday, coach Imes and his team are confident going into this weekend.
“I hate to sound cocky but with the scores were bowling this season and in the regional, I’ll be surprised if we don’t do well. There will be a lot of good teams there but the guys are catching lanes they feel comfortable with and like to bowl in,” said Imes.
While the boys won the regional, the girls had an equally successful week on the lanes with three conference wins.
The Lady Panthers started their week off with wins over Belleville West and Edwardsville. O’Fallon’s biggest and most important test of the week came on Thursday against the Alton Redbirds. In their previous meeting this season, Alton got the better of the Panthers on O’Fallon’s home lanes.
In Thursday’s meeting the Panthers held on to a tight lead going into game three and handed the Redbirds just their second loss of the season. The win also put the two teams in a tie for first place in the Southwestern Conference standings.
Senior Madison Kasza had another huge night for the Panthers with a 268 in the second game to help her team clinch the win over Alton.
“We have two tough matches left this season so beating Alton last was huge and it gives us an opportunity to remain tied with them for the rest of the season,” said Coach Spencer. “With three freshman starting varsity, I can’t ask for much more. The girls focus when they need to and always do their best.”
This week the ladies will host Belleville East on Tuesday and will travel to Rockford for a tournament this weekend.