Local bowlers compete in Panther Challenge

Columbia’s Cameron Touchette bowls earlier in the year at the Monroe County Cup. At this weekend’s Panther Challenge Touchette placed 38th overall with a 572 series. He also has a team high average of 220. (Teryn Schaefer photo)

Area bowling teams resumed play last Thursday after the holiday break. With under two weeks to go until the IHSA boys state sectional meet, the young men took to the lanes Saturday in the O’Fallon Panther Challenge.

Of the local teams competing in the 40 team tournament, Columbia came in 16th, Waterloo in 18th and Gibault in 38th. Belleville East took home the first place trophy, followed by Salem (2nd) and Rockford Guilford (3rd).

Aside from the strong competition, this tournament brought something new that teams have not seen all season.

“The oil pattern was a sports pattern, Kegel’s Middle of the Road pattern, holding even the best bowlers to a fraction of their averages throughout the tournament,” Waterloo coach Matt Beck explained. “In the afternoon, the oil conditions were breaking down, making them tougher than they already were.”

With bowlers having to make the adjustment to the new oil pattern, many struggled in the morning session.

“The team performed well,” Columbia coach Kevin Nowak said. “We struggled in the a.m. but did better in the afternoon Baker games pulling us up from 23rd place to 16th to finish.”

Waterloo bowled similarly.

“In the morning, we had a rough first game, but came back nicely with two solid games before noon to be in 11th place out of 40 at the midpoint of the tournament,” Beck explained.

“In the second block, we simply didn’t make good first shots and missed too many crucial spares.”

Waterloo did not have their second highest bowler in Tyler McIver who was out with the flu.

This did prove, however, to be a great prep for the sectional meet held Jan. 19.

“This event does help gauge the post season, even though it was bowled on a tougher oil pat- tern than that’s used in the post season,” Nowak said. “It really shows the team the competition that is out there and the level of effort needed to adjust to changing lane conditions.”

Three teams in Waterloo and Gibault’s sectional, Herrin (11th place), Centralia (10th) and Salem (6th) all finished higher than the Bulldogs in the Panther Challenge.

“I think that we will perform much better on a house shot at sectionals with a full varsity squad,” Beck said. “We should be able to compete with all three of (those) teams as well as the others that make up our sectional of 13 teams.”

Columbia also placed behind three teams that they will be competing against in their sectional; Belleville East (1st), O’ Fallon (4th) and Belleville West (8th).

Local bowlers that finished in the top 45 were: Michael McGarry- 25th, 598 series (Waterloo); Cameron Touchette- 38th, 572 series (Columbia); Hayden Bode- 39th, 571 series (Waterloo).

In other bowling news…

The Waterloo Bulldog boys remain undefeated coming off a 33-5 win over Triad at home last Thursday. In the match over the Knights, Waterloo’s Hayden Bode led the team with a high score of 268 in his series. Also on the leader boards, the Bull- dogs’ Michael McGarry holds the team high average of 220 through 33 games.

The Columbia Eagles are 5-4 on the season coming off a 33-5 loss to Mater Dei Thursday. Spencer Jermone led the Eagles with a high score of 221 in his series on the day. Also to watch for is team average leader Cameron Touchette, who holds a 220 average so far this season.

Girls bowlers will participate in their O’Fallon Panther Challenge this Saturday.

On Thursday, the Waterloo girls (8-3) defeated Triad, 26- 14. Payge Hunter led the Bull- dogs with a high score of 223 in her series. Teammate Gabbie Hoge leds the ‘dogs with an average of 181 through 33 games.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Lady Eagles did not bowl Thursday, because Mater Dei does not field a girls team. But the Eagles remain undefeated at 7-0 on the season. Becca Krebel leads the team with a 190 average.

Tuesday, Gibault will travel to Mater Dei and Waterloo hosts Roxana.

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