Local boys high school bowlers are hoping to strike it big in regional play this Saturday at Bel-Air Bowl in Belleville.
Columbia, Waterloo, Gibault and Dupo are all competing in the Belleville East Regional, with the top teams and individuals advancing to the Collinsville Sectional on Jan. 21.
Columbia is on a roll this year, holding the top spot in the Cahokia Conference with 10.5 wins. Head coach Keith Jeffrey said the Eagles are enjoying the emergence of sophomores Jacob Amos and Seth Harris. Amos holds the high average in the conference at 228, with Harris in fifth place at 216.
Senior Cade Stein holds the sixth highest average in the conference.
Columbia put up a team high game of 1,266 earlier this season, which ranks 15th all-time in the IHSA.
Justin Budde rolled a perfect 300 game during the first week of December.
The Waterloo boys bowlers are in a building year, head coach Matt Beck said. The Bulldogs are 2-7 in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
“Each boy has grown in one or more ways throughout the season, but the emphasis has been on fundamentals,” Beck said.
The highest averages on the team are held by Ryan O’Guin at 194 and Aaron Link at 190. The teammate with the third highest average, Ryan Matzig, has been out the majority of the season with a knee injury, Beck said.
“We look forward to having him back for the last week of the regular season and the beginning of the postseason,” the coach said.
The Gibault boys bowlers are 7-7 on the season, led by Matt Wolf and his team-high 196 average. Logan Lannom carries a 194 average for the Hawks.
“All of the varsity bowlers have shown good increases in average over last season,” Gibault head coach Tom Fanara said.
The Dupo boys bowlers have improved from last season, according to head coach Leonard Aldridge, with some averages up 20 to 30 pins.
Cody Putnam is averaging 197 to lead the Tigers, and has bowled a 300 game this year.
Girls bowling regionals aren’t until Feb. 4 at West Park Bowl in Columbia.
The Waterloo girls are having a great season once again. The defending MVC champions for the last three seasons are undefeated at 7-0.
Leading the way is Makensy Umscheid at 214 and Kristen Goersch at 192. Earlier this season, Waterloo placed fourth at the Triad Invitational Tournament, with Umscheid taking first overall and Goersch second overall out of more than 150 bowlers.
Waterloo also took second place in the Columbia Kegler Challenge, with Umscheid taking second overall.
On Monday, Waterloo placed fourth in the Panther Invitational at O’Fallon.
“The girls have set new school records twice this season and are continuing to impress many in the high school bowling community,” Beck said.
Columbia is currently in second place in the Cahokia Conference, having only lost to Freeburg.
Peyton Schmidt is leading the girls with the third highest average in the league at 200. She posted a 290 game earlier this season.
The Gibault girls hold a record of 2-8 on the season.
Taylor Hoylman is the high bowler on the team with a 178 average, followed by Amanda Kreher with a 139 average.
“The girls team is young, with the exception of Taylor, who has been bowling for several years,” Fanara said. “There are also two new bowlers on the team who have never bowled competitively in the past, so I look forward to their progress in the years to come.”
The Dupo girls are led once again by past state qualifier Courtney Argus.
“Courtney is doing very well again this year,” Aldridge said.
Her per game average is at 224 this season, which ranks among tops in the area.