By Nick Stanojevic
After competing all season and finishing 9-2 in dual meets, the girls’ bowling team finished third in conference play behind Elk Grove and Schaumburg. But the format of IHSA bowling still keeps a small glimmer of hope alive for the team.
Regardless of what place a team finishes in conference play, every team gets a shot at sectionals. Prospect will compete against all of the regular conference opponents and five other outside teams — New Trier, Deerfield, St. Scholastica, Regina Dominican and Loyola on February 6, this Saturday. The top two teams at sectionals qualify for state, which is held during the following weekend. And despite finishing 250 pins behind Elk Grove and Schaumburg at conference, none of that carries over and head coach Greg Troyer remains confident.
“If we are 250 pins down and we play 6 games, that’s less than 50 pins a game and 50 pins spread out over five bowlers, that’s less than 10 pins per bowler,” Troyer said, adding, “10 pins is one more spare, one less split, one extra strike, somewhere over the course of a game. And if everyone does that each game, we are there.”
A big reason for the team’s confidence is that the team has showed great potential. Against Elk Grove in early January, Prospect knocked down a school record 1,155 pins. Troyer believes the performance against Elk Grove symbolizes the team’s ability.
“In 35 years of Prospect bowling, no team has ever bowled that well, so we know we have the ability, we just haven’t had the consistency like Schaumburg and Elk Grove have had,” he said.
Players seem to agree. Sophomore Allison Walsh believes that their is “no doubt” the team has enough ability to qualify for state. Senior Holly Fields agrees.
“We all have the ability and the game to put up the scores,” Fields said, “it’s just our mental game where we need to work on.”
Another situation involving fellow conference teams give reason for Prospect to keep its hopes up. Schaumburg lost two varsity players recently and is struggling to replace them. In addition to Schaumburg’s question marks, Elk Grove has a young team that has proven to struggle under pressure. A year ago, Elk Grove finished second in conference play, but too much pressure on that young team led them to “crumble,” Troyer said.
“We only need to beat one, not both, and both teams have their flaws and we are the third place team ready to step up,” he added.
Despite the potential of the team and the faults of the competition, Troyer remains as realistic as possible about the teams chances.
“If their [Schaumburg and Elk Grove] games are on, yeah, we are finishing in third or worse,” he said.
For seniors like Fields, this Saturday is their last chance to qualify for state, something this group has never done. In the 10 years prior to the current seniors arrival, the Prospect team qualified seven of those 10 years, placing in the top five a number of those times.
“We have a really good program here at Prospect and it’s hard to live up to it, but we are trying and I think we are doing a good job of it,” Fields said.
Beneath the pressure and giddiness of the team, there is between Troyer and the team a sense of raw excitement; if the team placed first or second and qualified for state, they would, as Troyer put it, have a chance at turning their “good season” into a “magical season.”