An eighth-place finish at the state tournament highlighted another strong season for the Collinsville bowling program.
Collinsville had a pin total of 11,334 and a scoring average of 189.1 at the state tourney, held Feb. 8-9 at Cherry Bowl in Rockford. Southwestern Conference rival O'Fallon (11,179 and 186.3) placed ninth while Aurora Waubonsie Valley (12,512 and 208.5) claimed the team championship.
"We did well at the sectional (placing first at Camelot Bowl on Feb. 2) and we made it past the first cut at state," said Collinsville coach Sean Hay, who guided the girls to a state title in 2010. "Overall, we were a little under our average, but the girls got a lot of compliments about their attitude and their performance from opposing coaches and players. They said they enjoy bowling against us and we really take pride in that.
"We had a little bit of carry issues and the scores were down compared to the last four years. But everybody bowls under the same conditions."
There were several milestones for the girls this season, including senior Amber Burns, whose average of 213 was the highest in school history.
"It's one of the highest ever in the conference," Hay said. "Natalie Goodman (a former state champion from O'Fallon) was probably in the high teens, but 213 is pretty impressive.
"Throughout the season, we made a lot of improvement as a team. We have some sophomores and juniors that are making to push to make the transition from being in and out of the lineup players to regular players."
Courtney Bruncic and Sarah Crafton were the other seniors for Collinsville.
"It's always kind of a mixed bag for the seniors because there's a lot of pressure on them, but they had a pretty solid season as a group," Hay said. "It's hard to see them go because they were a part of our varsity lineup for three years."
Juniors Courtney Otradovec and Sammi Kassley and sophomore Lindsey Collins were also part of the varsity rotation.
"Courtney really came on at the end of the season and Sammi was pretty consistent all year," Hay said. "Lindsey had the second-highest average and she's right there getting ready to be our main player.
"(Junior) Joanna Beauchamp and(sophomore) Lizzy Barger spent most of their time on the JV because there really wasn't a spot for them on the varsity.
"Our varsity bowler was (sophomore) Hannah Brown. She's a left-hander and there's always a place on a bowling team for that."
The Collinsville boys, meanwhile, were 7-7 in dual matches.
"The record doesn't show how many close matches we dropped," Hay said. "There were three that could have gone either way.
"We lost six seniors from the previous season and there were some familiar faces, but varsity-wise, it was pretty much a new team. Another bowler didn't come back out this year, so we really lost seven.
"We started the season rough, but we finished third in the sectional. That shows we were heading in the right direction."
Senior Matt Flanagan was the Kahoks' lone state qualifier and finished 21st. His 221 average was the best in the conference.
"Matt struggled the first day at state, but he came back the second day and bowled pretty solid," Hay said.
Seniors Zach Howell (213) and Evan Smith (208) had the second- and third-best averages on the team.
"Zach has come a long way from his freshman year," Hay said. "He's always had a good physical game, but he's done a lot to improve his mental game.
"Evan had a 296 game this season and Matt Flanagan had a 300. Our fourth senior, Matt Minton, had a role that was more supportive, but I think if the season was a month longer, he could have become a starter."
Rounding out the top eight for the varsity were juniors Matt Recklein and Justin Vishy and sophomores Branden Boehnke and Eddie Fiudo.
"We have a good core group, but our freshmen have to step up," Hay said. "They had a rough year making the transition to high school bowling, but with a good summer of practice, they should be ready to go next winter."