It was a performance for the ages.
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — LaSalle-Peru senior lefty Nate Stubler started off the first day of the state meet at St. Clair Bowl with games of 269 and 268 and it appeared he was on trek for a very good day.
However, those turned out to be just his fourth and fifth best games of the day. Stubler finished the morning with a 300 and didn’t let the lunch break cool him off, as he came out with another 300 to open the afternoon.
He then threw six more strikes in a row before leaving a ringing 7-pin, which he also left on his final ball in the 10th frame, for a 278. He closed his day with a 222 for a state record 1,642 six-game series.
“Coming into today I wasn’t very sure how I would do,” Stubler said. “Today was a little different look from the practice round. I definitely enjoyed the day. It was a good time. I was able to find a few different spots today. I feel I threw the ball really well. The 300 was definitely a nice thrill and I’ve never thrown two in a row before, so that was cool.”
It is the second straight year he is in the lead heading into the second day of state. But this year that lead is a massive 213 pins over Clayton Hartman of Collinsville, who threw a solid 1,429.
“Last year I led after the first day and had an 80-60 pin lead and I got comfortable,” Stubler said. “I let my guard down. This year I’m going to try to come out firing and keep it going.”
Jacob Nimtz of Harlem sits in third place with a 1,424. Josh Boger of Oak Forest (1,381), Brandon Mooney of Hononegah (1,364), Reginald Petty of Morgan Park (1,359), Andrew Orf of O’Fallon (1,354), Connell Kelleher of Notre Dame (1,353), Austin Verheage of Sycamore (1,352) and Eli Rosenberg of O’Fallon (1,350) round out the top 10.
“First game I did pretty bad, but I said I was going to do better from there on and shot 244 and kept grinding from there,” Petty said. “It was pretty good today. I stayed ahead of transition and kept the ball speed medium to high. I want to make big shots and make all spares and avoid another 170 game.”
“The first half I did good and shot a 707, but the key to the day was carry,” Kelleher said. “Last year I went from 19th to 7th and hopefully I can do the same tomorrow. I need to strike.”
The team race is much closer than the individual race as Harlem (6,555) leads O’Fallon (6,512) by just 43 pins.
“It started off kind slow but in the middle games we were steadier,” Harlem’s Jacob Nimtz said. “We fell down a bit in the last game but we got back on it. It feels good to be ahead. We wanted to get off to a good start.”
“It started out strong with an 1,160,” O’Fallon’s Mark Hoerner said. “We struggled a bit in game two but picked it up from there.”
For the Huskies, they are looking to finish off with a state title after coming up short two years ago after leading going into the final day.
“We want to do the same thing we did today,” Nimtz said. “We were in first place two years ago and weren’t not going to do that again (Saturday), I promise that.”
“We just have to play our game, keep a steady head and play our shots,” Harlem’s Collin Day said.
The Panthers are consistently fighting for a top three spot every year, but this year are looking to take home the state title.
“We just have to stay patient and make the moves at the right time,” Andrew Orf said. “We can’t let anything get in our heads and make good shots.”
Hononegah, the team that rallied to take down Harlem for the title two years ago, is back in third place with a 6,285.
“We didn’t catch some carry and didn’t have the best of days, but we survived and that is what we have done all season,” Tanner Schewe said. “We’re looking to get some breaks tomorrow and bowl better as a team.”
“It was a rough day, and things didn’t fall our way,” Brandon Mooney said. “Hopefully we can make a run tomorrow.”
The Tribe is historically strong on the second day and they feel the lead is far from insurmountable.
“The second day is nice to us,” Mooney said. “It is definitely doable. It is a lot of pins, but if you can get going, it can get made up quick, so hopefully we do that.”
“When you bowl as a team, anything can happen,” Schewe said. “That is our biggest strength. We all love each other. We will be OK, we just have to bowl as a team.”
Triad is also in striking distance with a 6,243.
“We’re really happy,” Gavin Pisetta said. “We went out there and bowled really good today. It was an all around team effort. I love where we are sitting right now. We just have to try to get top three now.”
Freeport (6,182), Rockford East (6,153), Lake Park (6,092), Belleville East (6,053), Sandburg (6,051), Lyons (6,044), Lincoln-Way West (6,026) and Lockport (6,004) also made the cut.