In the second year of the regional-sectional postseason format, it is safe to say the IHSA’s change has paid off.
The sectional competition has been much improved and that led to some great bowling and tight finishes throughout the state in both individual and team competition.
That included the Plainfield North Sectional Saturday at the Brunswick Zone XL in Romeoville.
With seven individuals not on state teams advancing to the state meet, getting one Valley View member advance would have been a success.
However, three of the seven individual slots were taken by Valley View schools as Bolingbrook’s Matt Strzechowski and Steve Stropkovic and Romeoville’s Cody Surges advance to the state meet, which takes place this weekend at St. Clair Lanes in O’Fallon.
Play begins Friday and the top 30 individuals not on the final 12 teams will advance to finals.
Strzechowski jumped into the mix when had shot games of 279 and 278 in the third and fourth games and was able to hold on in the final two games.
“I didn’t think I would do this, Strzechowski said. “I had a bad first game and I thought it was over with. I just kept going and had 279 and 278 games. Going to state two years in a row feels great.”
During his incredible two-game run, Strzechowski stayed consistent with his shot.
“I just executed my shot,” he said. “I didn’t get caught up in the pressure. I just kept throwing the same ball. The lanes didn’t really dry up for me. They were pretty much the same until the last game.”
Stropkovic had a 693 in the morning and added a 235 in the fourth game, looking to be in great shape to advance to state. However, games of 184 and 191 made things interesting, but he was able to hold on to the final qualifying spot.
“I’m shaking,” Stropkovic said. “I can’t believe I made it in with that. I was bowling good in the first half and then I had two really bad games, but I was able to stay in there. You just have to keep making spares. I had to stay focused and make sure I don’t mess up.”
At state, the dup hopes to advance to finals.
“Hopefully I can bowl my best and try to be one of the 30 individual qualifiers for finals,” Stropkovic said. “Then see what happens. I don’t have a big problem with nerves, so I think I’ll be fine. I’ve been down there before, so we’ll see what happens.”
“I just need to stay calm and execute my shots,” Strzechowski said. “I can’t get caught up in the moment. I want to get rid of the low games and stay consistent throughout the whole day. Last year I had a good first half and then absolutely blew it in the second half. I don’t want to do that again. It will be a lot of fun.”
It will help to have each other there for support and to keep each other calm, as well.
“It makes it even better, especially since he is a senior,” Stropkovic said. “I think we will help keep each other calm.”
Surges found himself just outside the top seven individuals throughout the day, but stayed consistent throughout, with a low game of 200. His final game of 236 got him over the hump and into fourth place overall, including individuals on state teams.
“I knew going into the last game I was 12th and I needed a big score to jump up to the top seven. I didn’t know it was going to jump me into the top four,” Surges said. “That was huge. I made good shots and I focused. I’m really excited. I knew I could do it, but there were some really big scores, so I was kind of unsure. All the hard work paid off.”
Hey was able to withstand the pressure in the end and stayed focus on making his shots.
“The mental game was there today,” Surges said. “Nerves were there all day. It is my senior year, I knew I needed to go to state. I came here to practice Thursday and it wasn’t the same at all. I knew I had to keep moving left and it worked for me.”
Now at state for the first time, Surges wants to make finals, but also be sure to have fun.
“I just want to go down there and have fun,” Surges said. “It is my senior year, so it is my first and last year there. I want to make finals. I need to grind and pick up spares and make all my shots. I can’t get frustrated or get down on myself.”