JOLIET – Emily Koulis will make Minooka girls bowling history Friday when she competes in her fourth state final tournament as part of a Minooka team.
Amanda Warwick competed every year at state from 2005 to 2008 for the Indians, but in 2007, she did so as an individual. With Koulis anchoring them, the Indians are state-bound for a fifth consecutive year, which is their longest such streak, in 2014.
“I’m ecstatic that I’ve gotten to go to state all four years, being a four-year varsity player. I find it amazing, truly amazing, that all four of my years, that we get to go back,” Koulis said. “I know it’s my last one. It kind of saddens me, but I mean I’m excited. I’ve done it enough that I don’t get as nervous anymore. Like my freshman year, I was a complete nervous wreck. It got better as the years went on.”
Koulis played a major role, tallying a 1,260 series that ranked second on the team, but another senior led the Indians in last Saturday’s second-place finish at the Moline Sectional. Kayly Windbiel’s 1,276 was the fifth-highest individual score at the sectional. She, Koulis and junior Kortney Sickler, who had a 1,238, all would have qualified for state individually had the Indians not done so as a team.
The sectional was the first time Windbiel used her new DV8 Endless Nightmare ball in competition for more than a game.
“I got the ball like last month, and I haven’t been really able to use it that often because of how the shots been playing, so I was able to use it at sectionals, and it worked out really well,” Windbiel said.
There was a 240-pin gap between Minooka and fifth-place Morris, so the Indians did not need every pin Windbiel and Koulis gave them, but they knew going into the sectional they would need to bowl well to advance. Advancing out of what he considers the toughest sectional in Illinois is enough to impress coach Frank Yudzentis, even though this is the eighth time one of his teams is state-bound.
“Especially the route that we had to get there this year, getting there is quite an accomplishment,” Yudzentis said. “However, you don’t ever wanna go there and not make it to the next day. You’d like to give yourself an opportunity to win a trophy.”
Should every team bowl at state what it bowled at its sectional, the Indians would get that trophy. Their 6,020 was the third-highest sectional score in the state. They would not, however, come terribly close to winning; Waubonsie Valley, with which Minooka shared a sectional, bowled a 6,394. Waubonsie Valley is, Yudzentis said, “without a doubt” the favorite this weekend, but that nothing is guaranteed for anyone.
“Our goal every year is winning a trophy. Realistically, the last few years, we’ve felt like we’ve been good enough that we could do that. Doesn’t always happen that way,” Yudzentis said. “There are so many different variables at the state tournament that are unlike anything you see in an invitational, even the regionals and sectionals.”