CHERRY VALLEY – The top two teams all year long were Harlem and Lockport.
So, when the two teams distanced themselves from the pack and fought each other to the finish Saturday at the Cherry Bowl, it wasn’t a surprise.
Harlem led by 11 pins after the morning Saturday and built its lead to 55 heading into the final game.
Both teams battled nerves and a difficult shot, but the Huskies gutted out the win, finishing with a two-day, 12-game total of 12,310.
“It feels so good right now,” Kayla Verstraete said. “I’m glad we got to bowl against someone like Lockport. They pushed us.”
“If the competition wasn’t as strong as Lockport, I don’t think our scores would have been this high,” Stephanie Richards said. “We pushed ourselves to come in and win this tournament and do so well. We did it.”
After games of 1,015 and 1,038 in the afternoon, Harlem struggled to a 913 in the final game, but it was enough as the Porters finished with a 930.
“I know we had some opens, but when we had our pep talk there at the end, it drove us home,” Rebecca Hagerman said. “It drove us to be here now.”
“I did give them a pep talk going into the ninth frame,” Verstraete said. “It was very down to earth. We’ve been working for this all season.”
The win also marked the second time in state history (Andrew, 2012) that the boys and girls programs from the same school won the state title in the same year.
“It is a cherry on top,” Richards said. “It’s cool.”
In the process of the state championship, three individuals earned All-State honors as Verstraete finished fifth (2,609), Hagerman 10th (2,533) and Richards 12th (2,525).
“That didn’t matter to me, I just wanted to win as a team,” Hagerman said. “It has always been a dream of mine. We wanted this since the preseason and we did it.”
Mylee McCracken (2,420) also bowled all 12 games for the Huskies. Treasure Childs (1,311), Alexandra Huffington (527) and Angel Grinnall (385) also bowled.
Meanwhile, the Porters have brought home three different trophies the past three years at state, finishing first in 2015 and third last year.
This year they were looking to bring home the top trophy, but had to settle for second best.
“Overall, the pins didn’t fall for us the way we wanted them to,” Bailey Delrose said. “We can’t control the carry. Applause to Harlem for executing their shots. It’s good though because we have great chemistry with each other and I think that really helped us.”
“We got a lot of bad breaks today, too,” Dana Ackerson added. “We just wanted to execute our shots and take things one frame at a time.”
Still, three straight trophies is an impressive feat.
“It’s kind of awesome that we got first second and third,” Reiter said. “We have one of each, we can’t complain.”
Ackerson (2,600) and Delrose (2,597) both made All-State for the first time as they finished sixth and seventh.
“Me getting All-State as a senior was a goal and getting it tops off my senior year,” Ackerson said. “I wasn’t really worried about my individual score, I was just worried about the team. I knew that if I was doing my part and helping the team, I was also helping myself out.”
“All-State is always an individual goal for me,” Delrose said. “Getting it as a junior is really good.”
Paige Reiter (2,514) and Monica Colon (2,400) also bowled 12 games, while Grace Karraker (1,462) and Marissa Ramirez (699) also bowled.
Waubonsie Valley also is bringing home another trophy after rallying to place third with an 11,619.
The Warriors trailed by 110 entering the afternoon, by 86 with two games left and 43 with one game left before passing O’Fallon.
“We were just trying to put up big numbers and stay in the moment,” senior Serenity Quintero said. “We just took it one shot at a time and tried to fill the frame. It feels good.”
“It feels good to climb up the far and we put our all into what we were doing,” Mirica Yancey said. “We tried to fill our frames like we always do. We fought hard for this.”
They only used five bowlers for the tournament, as Quintero shot a 2,501, Yancey had a 2,484, Angelica Hernandez had a 2,230, Katelyn Orisek rolled a 2,210 and Natalie Cura shot a 2,194.
O’Fallon was in the top three for the first 11 games before being passed up in the final game and finished fourth with an 11,571. Natalie Heltne led the way with a 2,479.