JOLIET – Minooka and Morris form quite the rivalry in athletic competition, never any more passionate than in girls bowling.
In Saturday's Joliet West Regional at Town and Country Lanes in Joliet, the Indians rallied to overtake the Redskins in the final frame and claim the regional title with a 5,947 pin total. Morris finished at 5,925.
Both will advance to next week's loaded Moline Sectional, along with Joliet West (5,801) and Plainfield South (5,045), which finished third and fourth. West was led by individual champion Julie Kowalski, who shot 1,291, averaging 215.2 for the six games.
The top 10 finishers not on advancing teams also move on to the sectional.
Minooka led the team competition after the first game, Joliet West took the top spot in Game 2 and Morris led the rest of the way until the final frame.
"Morris is very good," Minooka coach Frank Yudzentis said. "Harry [Banks, the Redskins' coach] has them bowling very well.
"The first goal, obviously, was to get out of the regional. The nice thing that happened from our perspective is we were 35 pins down going itno the last game and we bowled as well as we did the last couple of frames. We knew it would be a grind."
The Indians shot 955 in Game 6, while Morris settled for 898. The Redskins' previous low was 950 in Game 1.
"Right down to the last frame, just like the Morris Invitational," Banks said. "They beat us there by something like 19 pins.
"But we bowled well today. We had three girls over 1,200."
Minooka senior Emily Koulis was the runnerup behind Kowalski. She shot 1,235. Morris' Savannah Strange (1,220) and Skylar Easson (1,217) and Joliet West's Taylor Bailey (1,213) rounded out the top five.
"I don't know if it really mattered that much who won today between us and Morris," Koulis said. "It was more about bowling as a team, five marks a frame. This is just a new win to add to our season."
"I don't know how the Minooka-Morris thing actually got started, but it always seems to go down to the wire between us," said Easson, senior who led Kowalski by one pin entering Game 6 but finished with a 155.
"It looks like I bowled one game too many," she added. "I bowled well overall but sometimes it gets to the point where it falls off."
Morris' Amber Benson was sixth at 1,207 and Minooka grabbed the next three spots: Kortney Sickler (1,196), Heather McCubbins (1,195) and Lexi Jones (1,182). West's Gracie Plese was 10th at 1,132.
"I hope we get them next week," Benson said of Minooka. "I really wanted to beat them. They're always our toughest competition."
"A lot of times it's like this with Morris," Sicker said. "But it really wasn't about beating them. It was about getting five marks a frame. That will get us where we want to be."
Yudzentis used three bowlers two games each in one spot in his lineup, including freshman Cheryl Eyman in Games 5 and 6. She came through with 195 and 200 games.
"When you can get seven bowlers involved in a situation like this, it's good, especially for the younger bowlers," Yudzentis said. "You hope that pays dividends down the road. The two games Cheryl bowled were impressive for a freshman. She held us up there toward the end.
"We're lucky enough now to have bowlers where we can match up to certain shots, depending on lane conditions."