Oak Lawn boys bowling coach Kevin McKeown challenged his Spartans heading into IHSA sectional tournament action.
“In the last few weeks of the regular season, we were having trouble picking up spares,” he said. “We actually lost more than 300 pins from not picking up spares at the conference tournament and it really hurt us.”
McKeown’s four seniors—Ryan Campin, Kyle Rodda, Ken VandeWerken and Cody Hanson—made sure the Spartans were in no pain following a strong performance Saturday at the Oak Lawn Sectional. The four led the Spartans to the team title and a return trip to the IHSA state tournament with a pinfall total of 6,218.
And they picked up help from a couple of underclassmen, too—namely sophomore Ryan Kirby and junior Matt VanderGriend.
VandeWerken placed third in the sectional with a six-game total of 1,342. Kirby was hot on his heels in fourth place with his 1,318. Rodda added a six-game series of 1,209. Campin chipped in a 1,199. VanderGriend bowled a 151 game and Hanson added a 144. Sophomore Joe Kamenske rounded out the Spartan lineup.
Next up for Oak Lawn is a trip to the IHSA state tournament Friday and Saturday at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon.
“I have four seniors—Ryan Campin, Kyle Rodda, Ken VandeWerken and Cody Hanson—and they really took on the role of leaders this past week because they made spares their primary focus,” McKeown said. “I was really happy to see that they were helping each other all week with how to adjust for various spares, and it paid off big-time (at Saturday’s sectional).
“We were in first place going into the afternoon by 100 pins, but our guys had the mindset they were out of first by that many. We had our best game of the day with a 1,089 in the fourth game. After the first four frames of the fourth game, four of our five players had all strikes. Our sophomore—Ryan Kirby—struck out the first nine frames. That really got the team fired up.”
McKeown expects the Spartans to carry that momentum with them downstate.
“Our focus this week is going to be having all five bowlers rolling well in every game,” he said. “In almost every game in the morning (at the sectional)—even though we bowled well over 1,000 pins—we had one player bowl a 160 game.
“Our players’ mindset this week is to bowl their best but keep everyone on the team positive and feeding off the same energy so everyone has their best game every game. Our motto this year was, ‘One frame, one game.’ I think it was that kind of focus out of our players that’s taken us to state.”