Again, I was asked by a reported some questions after the state tournament.
– What are your thoughts on the team’s performance at the State Meet this weekend?
It is tough to put the whole experience in perspective. We were pretty happy after Friday finishing in 9th only 327 out of first. We knew it was going to be a tough climb, but we knew we could do it. Then on Saturday morning we bowled our best 3 game series of the tournament but we still dropped a place to 10th. That was fine, we set our goals on 6th and moved forward, but then we kind of unraveled and dropped down to 12th. As I said, it is tough to put in perspective because you are in last place on the second day of state, but then you have to remember that only 12 teams in the state made the second day of state and you realize what an awesome accomplishment it is and then you look at the individual successes inside the larger team and you realize that it truly was an amazing weekend that I or the boys will never forget.
My main goal going in to the tournament was to get to Saturday and then see where we could go from there. So, in that sense the weekend was very successful. The boys were focused all weekend and really gave their all. After entering Saturday in 9th place we were hoping to move up in the standings, but it was a tough field with several quality schools. I was pleased with the determination the boys showed through all 12 games never giving up and fighting until the end.
– What were some of the highlights for you guys?
There are several pieces of the weekend that will always stand out to me. The first was the support we got from the parents. We had a fairly large contingent follow us down to state, and it meant a lot that there will willing to take the long trip to O’Fallon. On Friday in game 6 we were right on the bubble between advancing and being cut and the boys needed a big game, we were going strong through the first 8 frames and we were in good shape. Then, unexpectedly, the fan section starting chanting, “Let’s go Bears, Let’s go Bears…” and it was really awesome. This encouragement pushed the boys forward and we bowled our best game of the day (1039). The chants from the crowd gave me goosebumps and really made the day.
Another highlight is the performance of the seniors, Luke Mueller and Austin Wells. Both days Luke started out with a rough score (159 Fri and 148 Sat) but finished very strong. (1266 on Friday and 1211 Sat) he didn’t let the bad first game get him down and he kept fighting through. He was also always clapping and cheering on his team mates even when he was worried about his own game, which I really appreciate that he was able to put his own frustrations aside for the good of the team.
Austin’s performance was also inspiring. He has been battling with tendinitis since winter break and been fighting through the pain. On Friday morning his medication was not agreeing with his system and he just felt a little off leading to an uncharacteristically low (155) game 2. In the afternoon, after eating some lunch and letting the medication settle, he was back in good form finishing with a strong game 5 (266) and a 672 series for the afternoon. Then, on Saturday Austin was our rock. He decided to forgo medication and tough through the pain. In the morning most of the boys were clicking and bowling well which lead to our team’s high series (3052) but we still dropped a place to 10th with Austin finishing with a 622. In the afternoon as the team started to unravel, Austin was steady as a rock with only one open in the last two games and finishing with a 642 series and taking 28th place with a 2485 tournament total (207.1 avg). This makes him the highest finishing Lake Zurich Boy’s bowler in school history. It was really nice to see Austin achieve this since he has been our team leader for the last two years and to see all of his dedication to the bowling team really pay off.
Finally, the total team effort that the boys showed throughout the weekend very gratifying to me. It is difficult to instill the team concept in what is perceived by many as an individual sport, but the boys really came together as a group. When we had to substitute kids in and out to try and find the right mix no one got down or upset. The boys were constantly trying to help each other make adjustments and they were constantly encouraging each other. The leadership of Kyle Hunter, much like at sectionals, really helped us on the first day to keep from getting discouraged in the tight competition, he was always setting the expectation that we were going to do better each game, and that paid off.
– I believe Austin Wells reached the state tournament last year as an individual, how much do you think that helped him this time around?
Austin learned a lot last year in terms of how to adjust to the lane conditions as the broke down. The state oil pattern is still a house shot, but it is a slightly different house shot than what these boys play on all year. This isn’t as much of a problem in the early goings as it is as they break down. Austin saw this last year as he was barely eliminated after the first day because he was not able to string together his strikes. That experience gave him motivation to make his game more versatile and we can see that it paid off this year. Austin has never been one to be affected by the pressure of the moment, but I still think having been in that state environment last year helped he keep a cool head this year.
– Could you list how the rest of the team did at State?
Luke Mueller was 44th with a 2426
Steve Garcia was 45th with a 2407
Those were the only 3 who bowled all 12 games.
Here is a link to the results from Saturday, http://www.ihsa.org/activity/bwb/2009-10/1result2.htm and Friday, http://www.ihsa.org/activity/bwb/2009-10/1result1.htm.
– Can you put in perspective the season the team had this year?
This was the first year since my first were we had a full varsity team (5 or 6 kids who could average 200+). We had no seniors last year and only 2 two years ago, so we have been building to this for several years. Last year when we didn’t advance out of sectionals after winning the conference we said, wait til next year and all year we talked about how this is our year and the boys performed up that expectation. They won two large, competitive tournaments (Cougar Classic & Plainfield North Invite) and finished in the top 5 the last 5 weeks of the season. (Morgan Park, Rockford PBA Experience, Plainfield, Lake Zurich, Sectionals). With the 12th place finish at state this is the most successful team in Lake Zurich Boy’s Bowling history.
On top of that we are only losing two members of the Varsity squad (Mueller and Wells) for next year and we have some underclassman that have made a lot of progress in the past year. After the 2006-07 state trip, most of that team graduated, so the lessons learned from state where not passed on. This year, I am hoping that the returning members will take what they learned from this experience and use it to motivate and drive them forward as we work in the off-season.