Three bowlers compete in sectionals

Among a host of sports and clubs at OPRF, intramural bowling has emerged as one of the top competitive activities. For the first time in school history, bowlers from OPRF participated in the IHSA State bowling regional and sectional tournament.

“The intramural bowling program is one of the most sustainable intramural programs at OPRF,” said bowling intramural supervisor Richard Short. “We have an athletic director that believed in our vision and helped the intramural program transition into the IHSA State Bowling Tournament.”

The regional tournament was highlighted by junior Payton Wernet finishing first, bowling an average score of 220 through six rounds.

“I started off very slow, but I was able to have a strong last five rounds. Without the support of my coach and my teammates I would not have been able to win,” said Wernet.

Junior Jackson Davis finished sixth, and senior Will Zeiser finished fourth.

All four bowlers advanced to sectionals the following weekend.

“Overall I felt regionals were a good experience for me,” said Davis. “The first three games were not my best, but I managed to come back in the second three games.”

Short says the most impressive thing about the three bowlers is “Their composure and stature. Fighting through the nerves and competing at a high level for six games. They all started with some butterflies, but they communicated after each frame, which helped them complete shot after shot. The key components for them were they took the spare shooting drills in practice and executed them in competition.”

Even though bowling is an individual sport, the bowlers have still developed team chemistry over the course of the season.

“The chemistry our team has is immaculate. We try to give each other advice, help each other with our shots, and encourage each other to do our best,” said Davis

“Bowling as a team is the best part about bowling. Being around your friends who are on the team is really fun and helps calm the nerves,” said Wernet.

Sectionals were on Jan. 22, but did not yield the same results as regionals. Wernet and Zeiser finished 12th and 14th respectively, failing to qualify for the IHSA state championship.

“Starting off sectionals, I applied pressure onto myself and probably went a little head-over-heels,” said Wernet. “I had to play catch up after the first game, and I wasn’t lining shots up the way I wanted to. Everything blew up in front of me.”

Davis started off strong with a first round score of 202 but was not able to keep up that level of play, averaging a score of 159 through the next five rounds.

Zeiser was in contention for making state but failed after scores of 166 and 164 in the final two rounds.

“Though I didn’t do as well as I wanted, it was a great experience, and I know what I need to do to be even better next year,” said Davis.

The ultimate goals for the future of the team are growing their numbers and making a transition from an intramural to an official OPRF sport.

“I would love to be able to compete as a team as an official IHSA sport. Hopefully as a team we can make it out of regionals and it would be cool if any member of our team made it down to state next year,” said Wernet.