While the state finals featured competitiveness throughout much of the tournament, the top three teams and top two individuals separated themselves from the pack.
On the team side, it was Harlem which won the title after finishing second and fourth the past two years, with a 12,998 total.
“It feels like the world is off my shoulders,” Harlem’s Jacob Nimtz said. “After our 1170 in the second game, we just wanted to stay clean and be positive.”
“It feels great,” Noah Mandujano added. “I hope we can do this the next two years. We just had to stay consistent and pick up our spares.”
In the process of the title, three Huskies were also All-State qualifiers in sophomore Noah Mandujano (2,665, 8th) and seniors Collin Day (2,662, 9th) and Nimtz (2,643, 12th). Senior Dawson Jones (2,519) and junior Kyler Gerl (2,509) also bowled all 12 games in the tournament.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Day said. “It is all about the team. We stayed on it and kept together.”
Hononegah was safely in second with a 12,814 two-day total. It was the third straight year it has finished second or better.
“I think it has proven that our area has gotten really good,” Hononegah senior Brandon Mooney said. “Bringing home three trophies helps. We marked our name on the map. It feels pretty good (to place second). Second place in the state isn’t bad.”
Mooney’s 2,699 series gave him fourth place individually. Tanner Schewe (2,594), Nick Sommer (2,593, 1,452 Saturday) and Jacob Sommer (2,323) also scored in the tournament.
“It’s nice,” Mooney said. “I was throwing the ball good and pins were falling my way. I was just focused on the team doing good. When the team is doing good, you start throwing the ball better.”
O’Fallon added another trophy to its case after taking third with a 12,602, well ahead of fourth place.
“We expected to win, but on paper, we weren’t the best team,” O’Fallon senior Andrew Orf said. “We just wanted to have fun and make good shots.”
Orf was All-State, taking fifth place with a 2,698 total.
“It is obviously pretty cool,” said Orf, who was also all-state last year. I wanted to finish a little better than last year, so I really wanted to win, but it didn’t happen that way.”
Mark Hoerner (2,582) and Matthew Toohy (2,461) also bowled 12 games.
The final nine spots were all close for the teams. Triad (12,229), Rockford East (12,215), Lake Park (12,193), Freeport (12,178), Sandburg (12,173), Lincoln-Way West (12,130), Lockport (12,012), Belleville East (12,000) and Lyons (11,994) rounded out the finalists.
Individually, it was all Nate Stuber of LaSalle, who came in with a big lead after a state record total Saturday and maintained his consistency with no worse than a 224 in the tournament.
“It is a great feeling,” Stubler said. “I figured I wasn’t going to repeat what I did yesterday, but I was able to average a 245. It is an honor to win.”
His total score of 3,116 gave him the win by a record 308 pins, as his total and average of 259.7 were both state tournament records.
“It was a great season overall,” Stubler said. “I want to thank my coaches for helping me the past four years and for all of those who supported me through the years.”
Collinsville’s Clayton Hartman also separated himself from the pack, taking second place by 74 pins with a 2,808 total.
“Knowing it was my last tournament, I just came into it knowing I wanted to relax,” Hartman said. “I wanted to do what I wanted to do all year. The pins were falling all tournament and I had a good outcome. I was able to stay ahead of the moves and keep with the same ball for the most part.”
Oak Forest’s Josh Boger was third with a 2,734, while Connell Kelleher of Notre Dame was sixth with a 2,671, which included a 300 game to start the afternoon Saturday.
“It is amazing,” Boger said. “I kept hitting my mark and stayed ahead of the transition. I made all my spares.”
“It feels good,” Kelleher said. “I wanted to finish ahead of last year and I accomplished that. The 300 felt really good. It was my first one.”
Tyler Hunter of Freeburg placed seventh with a 2,666, Jack Bedtke was 10th with a 2,654 and Caleb Kirby was 11th with a 2,651.
“It feels amazing,” Hunter said. “Words can’t describe it. I made good shots and got my spares. My goal was to get to the second day and it ended up good.”
“It was something I always wanted,” Bedtke said. “It was a dream. I just stayed consistent all day. This is the biggest accomplishment I could come up with.”
“It fees great,” Kirby said. “I just stayed calm. I got a little into my head in the first half of this tournament. I had fun and enjoyed my time with the team.”