CHANNAHON — To say that the Minooka boys bowling team is off to a successful start this year is something of an understatement. At the same time, to ask Indians head coach Derrick Rapsky, their kind of success can also propose a challenge to the team.
Two days removed from setting a school record for pins in a dual with 3,394, Minooka had to settle for a 3,194 on Wednesday in a non-conference match with Lincoln-Way Central. Since losing their opener, the Indians have now won eight straight duals.
“We’re all really excited. Everyone feels that there’s something happening for us this season,” Minooka junior John Kauffman said. “Everyone is feeling it. We’re a lot more confident this year and we want to keep the momentum going.”
Kauffman led the Indians with a 697 series against Central by recording games of 225, 258 and 214. Three others shot over 600 and Nick Beeler came in at 571. Justin Shepard ended at 644 (245, 197, 202), Dylan Pickett at 625 (212, 249, 180) and Zach Segatto was at 622 (225, 217, 180).
As you can see, the consistency up and down the lineup has been there for the Indians to this point in the year.
“We’re all trying for 200 and above scores,” Shepard said. “If you don’t hit that, you just have to move on and forget about it.”
Shepard and Segatto each went out to a 129 score after the first five frames but a little later, Kauffman finished with six straight strikes to clean up. At the same time Kauffman was finishing strong, Pickett closed out with five straight strikes of his own to close with an almost un-noticed score of 212.
“I usually start strong and Zach usually starts strong, but all five of us consistently do well. We all hit our strides at some point,” Shepard said. “I’ve been shooting good lately and actually, the team has been shooting good. Really, this is where we need to be if we want to get to state this year.”
Rapsky said that his team needs to be aware that they can’t get down if they don’t always roll a 200-plus game.
“It’s a mental thing with this team. Talent-wise they are as good as anybody,” he said. “But sometimes one of them will roll a 190 and their first reaction is ‘well, there goes my chance for a 700 (series)’. Now we do have four or five bowlers who can do that, but they need to realize that they can’t be mad with a 660. As long as we have every kid shooting at least a 190, we’ll be fine.”
Kauffman said that part of the battle is just recognizing that everyone is flawed to some degree. “We can’t expect everyone to be perfect all the time,” he said. “That’s where you rely on the team. Everyone comes in at their own time when they are feeling it.”
On days like Wednesday when things are clicking, Kauffman said that watching the whole team in action is awesome.
“Everyone pays attention. There’s no point in just keeping track of yourself. You want to see everyone do well,” he said. “It’s nice to be the high scorer, but it’s great to see someone else have a good day, too. When everyone is shooting well, it all helps in the long run.”
Keeping that kind of focus through the second half of the season is important to Rapsky. However, he seems to think that what happened last winter will serve as adequate motivation for the team.
“We lost the conference title last year by 11 pins and missed the cut to state by 17 pins,” Rapsky said. “What that comes down to is two open frames both days. That’s what cost us last year. I think this year with a lot of the guys returning, they understand that.”
Chris Dombrowski (383) and Kyle Kurtz (167) also bowled for the varsity on Wednesday.
In the JV meeting, Minooka won 2,862-2,342. Scoring for the Indians were: Alan Koch (593), Jack Russell (566), Alex Guglielmucci (561), Kody Bacher (519) and the combination of Dombrowski and Kurtz (223/182, 191).