2nd-year Oswego program ready to contend for state title
Expansion teams in pro sports are notoriously bad, and the same usually holds true at the high school level.
Oswego’s boys bowling team is a glaring exception. As a first-year program last winter, the Panthers stunned everyone but themselves in winning a sectional title and finishing seventh at the state finals.
It wasn’t a fluke. Oswego won the toughest sectional in the state last Saturday by 252 points and will be a strong contender to win the team championship this weekend at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. The Panthers’ sectional pinfall of 6,522 was the third-best score in the state behind Rockford Guilford (6,585) and defending champion Lake Park (6,560).
‘‘It’s just an amazing group of kids,’’ Oswego coach Linda Keely said. ‘‘These kids work really hard, and the thing is, they’re not just bowlers, they’re athletes.’’
Most of the Panthers play multiple sports. Sophomore Mikey Preston and junior Adam Johnson play football, and seniors Corey Marshall and Chris Carriedo play tennis.
‘‘We all train and work out together,’’ Preston said. ‘‘We’re fit, and that helps a lot in this game. Just being able to go six games all day and not be tired is huge.’’
‘‘[In] football you need a lot of stamina,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘ Bowling all day long, you’ve got to keep your legs strong, and you’ve got to keep your hand from wearing down.’’
Unlike last year, there’s no clear No. 1 bowler. Preston was 26th at state last winter with 2,559 pins and has the talent to contend for the individual title.
But at the sectional, it was Marshall who led the way with a 1,378 series. Johnson rolled 1,347 and Preston 1,337. Those scores rank seventh, 13th and 19th among sectional performances.
‘‘Our game plan is just going to be the same it’s been all year round: Just team first and stay together, and we’ll pull through,’’ Marshall said. ‘‘It’s a real good feeling to be going back.’’
If anything, the team is deeper this time around. Carriedo (1,277 at sectionals) and junior Jacob Roberts (1,183) give Oswego a formidable quintet that rolled 1,195 (239 per person) in the third game of the sectional to vault the Panthers from fourth place to first.
Oswego coach Linda Keely says her players are great athletes as well as outstanding bowlers.