BY SAM SCINTA
The O’Fallon Township High School Girls Bowling Team is a perfect 5-0 to start the season, and it’s fair to say that doesn’t happen without the contributions of rising freshman star Natalie Heltne.
This past week, Heltne placed her name along with her teammates when her 238 game contributed to a team record-setting 1133 game.
The opening game allowed the Panthers to coast to a 32-8 win over the Belleville-East Lancers, a familiar theme for the power-filled O’Fallon team that is tearing through the Southwestern Conference.
Heltne would roll a team-high 660 series, marking the second straight meet with a 220+ average. A stretch like this can make any coach’s job easy, but Girls Head Coach Garrett Spencer knows having a star freshman like this is a rare privilege.
“Natalie is our lead-off bowler, which is a tough job for anyone, let alone a freshman,” Spencer said. “But she has taken off with the role and has really set the tone for the rest of the team.”
The freshman has kicked off her promising high school career in style, making waves at the regional level as well as at the conference level, having placed in the top 15 at the Abe Lincoln Invitational in Springfield at the beginning of the month.
Heltne was a force on the Junior High circuit before her days at OTHS. The freshman is coming off a seventh place finish for Edward Fulton Junior High in the Southern Illinois Junior High School Athletic Association State Girls Bowling Final, finishing just eight pins out of the top five.
OTHS will be loaded for years to come as the freshman duo of Heltne and Mary Orf figure to team up with rising sophomore Lauren Tomaszewski for several years of SWC and IHSA dominance.
Natalie is the daughter of Julie and Nate Heltne.