What a day for the OTHS girls bowling program! The Lady Panthers traveled south and won the IHSA Columbia Regional in stellar fashion on Saturday Feb 2, 2019.
The girls were firing on all cylinders from the start and never looked back, defending their title from last year with a wire-to-wire win, and posted the second highest state-wide regionals series of 6321 (210 avg).
“The incredible team effort was evident with them bowling over 200 in 21 of their 30 games bowled,” exclaimed OTHS Girls Bowling Head Coach Garrett Spencer.
The two highest games of the day were bookend performances by our very own Lady Panthers. The first game 1142 was the tournament high game as well. During that game the scores were; lead-off Natalie Heltne (Jr) 191, Grace Braswell (Jr) 257, Hayleigh Williams (Sr) 211, Mary Orf (Jr) 269, and anchor/SFA recruit Lauren Tomaszewski (Sr) 214. The last game, game six, would be where the Lady Panthers finished strong and shut the door on the competition shooting a fantastic 1141. Each of the girls surpassing the 200-mark shooting; Natalie 225, Grace 233, Kayleigh 265, Mary 203 and Maddi Thornton (Sr) 215.
“As well as the team did there was one person who outshined them all, Grace Braswell having her best day bowling as a Lady Panther. She was the individual champion shooting an incredible 1404 (234 avg) and shot her first sanctioned 300!”, said Coach Spencer. Her 300 came in the second game of the tournament, every shot hitting the pocket flush and looking perfect.
“Even in the tenth frame when she needed three more strikes, Grace was calm, cool and collected delivering that final blow to the pins again hitting the pocket flush, a no doubter with ten in the pit,” Coach Spencer remarked. Returning off the approach after that last shot, her teammates, coaches, and opponents congratulated her. But it was her mom walking to the settee area to give her daughter a big hug that was the best of all.
Another Lady Panther having her best season ever is junior Mary Orf. She finished second in the individual running with an amazing 1367 (227.8 avg), just 37 pins behind Grace.
“Mary has been rock-solid for the Lady Panthers all season long with a 209 avg during conference matches. Her second-place finish was the fourth time this season, the team can always count on Mary to perform at her best,” Coach Spencer said.
Along with Mary is fellow teammate and junior Natalie Heltne who finished the day in ninth place shooting 1233 (205.5 avg).
“Natalie is definitely one of the best spare shooters in the state. Her 205 average on the day is even more impressive considering she didn’t get a turkey until the tenth frame of the last game – she didn’t miss a makeable spare all day,” Coach Spencer said.
Coach Spencer said, “The three seniors had some key games for the team. Lauren Tomaszewski (187.8 avg) had her high game of the day in game 1 with a 214 helping the team start the day off strong. She is also having her best year with a 212 avg in conference matches. Hayleigh (201 avg) saved her best for last shooting an amazing 265 in game 6. Maddi (186.5 avg) also saved her best for last with a 215 in game 6. The team is definitely peaking at the right time and I am really proud of the girls’ performance on Saturday. I am also very excited for Grace and looking forward to the next two weeks. If they can keep it rolling like today, they will punch their ticket to the IHSA Girls Bowling State Tournament for the eighth year in row (third year for the current team).”
OTHS Lady Panthers will be heading to IHSA Sectionals in Carterville IL (SI Bowl) on Saturday Feb 9th. The other three teams that qualified from Columbia Regional are BTHS East, BTHS West and Mascoutah shooting scores of 5986, 5866 and 5778, respectively. They will be joined by the top 4 teams from the Collinsville Regional; Collinsville (5596), Highland (5347), Edwardsville (4961) and Jerseyville (4907), and the Johnston City Regional; Salem (5696), Anna (5320), Harrisburg (5251) and Herrin (4923).