Panther Challenge wraps up

Columbia’s Becca Krebel (pic- tured) helped lead her team to a 22-18 victory over Cahokia Thursday. Krebel had a team high 606 series and went on to finish 58th out of 210 bowlers in Saturday’s O’Fallon Panther Challenge. For more photos from Thursday’s matches, visit the Media Store by clicking the photo. (Teryn Schaefer photo)

Last Saturday, the Waterloo, Columbia and Gibault boys competed in the O’Fallon Panther Challenge.

This past weekend, it was the girls’ turn.

The Columbia Eagles looked to be highly competitive in the large tournament. The Lady Eagles are 9-0 on the season, coming off a 22-18 victory over Cahokia on Thursday. The Gibault Hawks also competed on Thurs- day, defeating Althoff, 25-15. Whereas, the Lady Bulldogs are 10-3 on the season and came into the tournament after a 37-3 win over Metro East Lutheran on Wednesday.

Once again, the 32 team tournament proved to be tough, not just due to the competition, but the oil pattern on the lanes was a Kegel Sport shot– something local teams are not used to seeing.

The morning session of the tournament consisted of a traditional three game format. After that session, Waterloo went into the afternoon Baker games ahead of undefeated Columbia by over 200 pins, according to Waterloo bowling coach Matt Beck.

“The first couple of games for Waterloo was a little lower than they have averaged during the regular season,” Beck explained. “But they came back in the third game with the best five-person total score this season of 929.”

In the last block of the Baker games, Waterloo lost its edge over Columbia and fell to a 16th place finish, three pins behind the 15th place Eagles.

“The highlight of the day was in game seven of the Baker format when the girls rolled seven strikes in a row and finished with a 246 score,” Eagle bowling coach Kevin Nowak said.

This is the highest finish in the tournament for the Lady Eagles in the coach’s five years with the team. Gibault finished 29th out of 32 teams.

Rockford Jefferson took home the first place trophy, while Harlem and O’Fallon Gold rounded out the top three.

The Lady Hawks’ Morgan Weber placed the highest individually out of the three local teams competing at 19th with a 552 series (155, 166, 231). Waterloo’s Gabbie Hoge place 31st with a 521 series (199, 143, 179). The ‘Dogs Payge Hunter and Megan Vogt placed in the top 60 out of 210 bowlers at 44th and 49th respectively. Becca Krebel and Miranda Rodenhofer rounded out the top 60 bowlers at 58th and 59th respectively for Columbia.

This is the last week of the regular bowling season with Gibault and Waterloo facing Wesclin and Mascoutah on the road Tuesday and Columbia facing Lebanon in its senior night, results not available by press time. As well as Gibault vs. Columbia at West Park Bowl Wednesday with Waterloo bowling at home that day too against Highland in the Bulldogs’ senior night. Thursday is the last day of regular season play with Gibault facing Wesclin at home for senior night, Waterloo goes to Civic Memorial and Columbia travels to Freeburg.

Waterloo coach Matt Beck says he believes his team will finish second or third in the Mississippi Valley conference. Columbia is in the Cahokia Conference.

“I look for them to finish the season strong this week and keep their expectations up for Sectionals in a little under three weeks,” Beck said.

The girls Sectional Tournament is Feb. 2, while the boys Sectional tournament will be held this Saturday.

“I am pleased with our performance in the tournament, yet we are made aware of the need to be even better in our scoring to make it out of the Sectionals,” Nowak explained. “We will need to average team games at Sectionals of 850-900 to place and an individual girl will need to score in the 600-plus series in both three games sets.”

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