Virtually every pin counted for Minooka during last Saturday's Rich East Girls Bowling Sectional, where the Indians held off Joliet West 5,831-5,823 for the final spot at state.
Junior Emily Koulis led the Indians with a 1,234 series, but a 1,197 from senior Danielle Grygiel was critical to their second-place finish. Grygiel, who was on the team but did not get into the lineup when the Indians finished second at the 2012 state final tournament, has emerged as a key contributor this season. She was All-Conference in the Southwest Prairie and, according to spcbowling.net, she had a per-game average of 187.9 in conference duals.
Days before the 2013 state final tournament, which began Friday and continues today, Grygiel shared her thoughts with the Morris Daily Herald.
Q. Coach (Frank) Yudzentis says you were the most consistent bowler at the sectional and "the reason" that the team advanced. How did it feel to contribute like that in that situation?
A. It really felt awesome to contribute to our advancement. Although I do believe that we all contributed to winning second place, it feels good to know that I was able to hold up the team when we really needed it.
Q. Just how exciting did those final few frames get, with things so close between your team and Joliet West?
A. The last few frames were honestly a blur. In my mind, I was thinking, 'If we don’t show all we got now, there’s no future for us.' At the same time, I was thinking, 'These are the last few frames with the girls that I have grown up with.' It really hit me that the sectionals would be the last day I would bowl with the girls I've grown so close to, and I definitely didn't want it to end.
Q. As a senior, what was going through your mind as the final game progressed?
A. During the final game, like I said, I realized that it may be the last day to bowl with my girls and with the coaches. I realized at that point that I didn't want the year to end at all.
Q. I know you were part of last year's team but didn't get to bowl at state, though you did bowl some as a sophomore. How do you feel about being in the lineup?
A. I’m really excited about being in the lineup, but at the same time, I realize that if I am bowling poorly, I definitely want to be pulled. I would rather sacrifice my playing time and win than bring my team down.
Q. What, if anything, is different about this year's team from the past few that you have been a part of?
A. Basically, every year has been the same. I've grown really close to a lot of the girls and we still hold those relationships even if they graduate. The biggest difference this year is that I’m the oldest, and I realize that the lower classmen most likely look up to me, even if this means outside of the realm of bowling. I want to set a good example for them.
Q. Who tends to lead the team in cheering during a meet?
A. Allyson Lakota and Emily Koulis always lead our 'star-frame' cheer. They are definitely the loudest!
Q. What kind and size ball do you use, and how did you settle on it?
A. I mostly use my Acid Hammer, which is 16 pounds. I’m quite strong for a girl, so when I hit my target, the ball rockets down the lane. I think I use my strength to my advantage more than anything.
Q. What did being an All-Conference selection mean to you?
A. Being All-Conference meant to me that all of my hard work from the last four years has finally paid off. I was proud to represent Minooka in our conference. I felt like the definition of a true Minooka Indian.
Q. I saw you are an Illinois State Scholar and in (National Honor Society). How much pride do you take in your academic success, and how tough does finding time to study get during the season?
A. Grades matter to me more than anything. If I have to skip practice to get extra help with a class, then so be it. I strive to be well-rounded. It is really hard being in two honors societies, another club, have a job and actively participate in the bowling program, but I have my priorities set straight and I realize that I have the potential to be successful in everything I do. It’s hard to keep up with everything, and even if I pull an all-nighter to prevail, I’m up for the challenge.
Q. Do you think the team can look back and be satisfied with this season no matter what happens at state, or does something still need to happen this weekend?
A. I think that, either way, the seniors especially can look back at this year and see success in it. We got as far as we did and that alone is something to be proud of. We've grown so close with each other and the coaches, so I’d say that, either way, if we win state or don’t, this season was a great one.