By Randy Whalen
There was no repeat of a SouthWest Suburban Conference championship for the Sandburg boys bowling team.
But that was OK with the Eagles, as they are focused on bigger and better over the next two weeks.
After never winning the SWSC until 2017, the Eagles won the league’s Blue Division last season for their second title in three years.
With the conference tournament once again inclusive of all SWSC schools, the Eagles placed in the middle of the pack at the annual meet, held Jan. 11 at Orland Bowl. Lockport continued its dominance of the league, which began play in the 2005-06 season. The Porters prevailed with a pinfall of 6,288. Bradley-Bourbonnais (6,229) was second and Lincoln-Way Central (6,100) placed third.
Central’s Alex Nolan took the individual title.
Lincoln-Way West (6,036), Sandburg (6,004), Lincoln-Way East (5,519), Andrew (5,490), Stagg (5,447), and Bolingbrook (5,282) rounded out the nine-team field.
“We only had two seniors in our varsity conference lineup,” Sandburg coach Jeff Kwilose said. “In my mind, I said if we came out and shot a 6,000 I’d be happy. We did that with three mediocre [sub 1,000 games]. We had two All-Conference (top 11) medalists.”
Those were sophomore Joe Zellinger, who placed sixth with 1,279 and had a high game of 241), and senior Alex Grezlovski, who rounded out the medalist board by finishing11th overall with 1,256 and a high of 230.
“This was really fun and a big accomplishment,” Zellinger said of making All-Conference. “In my last tournament, I placed 10th so it was nice to move up.
“I was really excited to make it on varsity this season. I’m just honored to be on the varsity and be able to bowl with these guys, especially our seniors.”
Freshman Gabe Castro (1,165, high of 247), senior Matt Bartlett (1,155, high of 226), and junior Timmy Novak (1,149, high of 214) rounded out the Eagle lineup.
For Stagg, sophomore Jamison Marrick (1,149, high of 247) led the way. Senior Alec Jovanovic (1,142, high of 225), junior August Antanavicius (1,072, high of 202), senior Clay Bumsted (1,036, high of 197), sophomore Cole Downs (887 in 5 games, high of 204) and sophomore Erik Nelson (161) rolled the final game for the Chargers.
Regionals open Saturday, Jan. 18. Stagg is at the Brooks Regional, which begins at 9 a.m. at Skyway Bowl in Chicago. Sandburg is the Bremen Regional, which starts at 9 a.m. at Centennial Lanes in Tinley Park. The top 4 teams out of each regional advance to the Lockport Sectional, which will be held starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at Strike N’ Spare ll in Lockport.
“I’m excited for the regionals,” Zellinger said. “We missed state by 18 pins last year. That’s two spares. We want to get to state as a team this year.”
Kwilose hopes his squad can make it to O’Fallon again for the first time since completing a three-year run to the state tourney from 2015-17.
“We’ve had a great supporting cast,” said Kwilose. “If we do our job we should get out of the regional. Then we should be one of nine teams with a legitimate shot of being one of the six teams that get out of the sectional and makes it to state.”