O’Fallon denies Harlem’s bid for third straight state bowling title
By Bob Balgemann
O’Fallon, Harlem and Minooka. The three girls bowling teams most likely to challenge each other for this year’s state championship did just that. And they finished 1-2-3: O’Fallon, Harlem and Minooka.
The two-day tournament at nearby The Cherry Bowl was a nail-biter from start to finish. In 11 of the 12 games the difference between first and second place was less than 100 pins.
And when the dust settled downstate O’Fallon used a 1,055 pinfall in the 11th game to turn a 43-pin margin into a 142-pin lead. The Lady Huskies edged the Lady Panthers, 895 to 851 in the 12th and final game, but it wasn’t enough to overcome that deficit.
Minooka, located near Joliet, faded Saturday afternoon but still finished third.
The final pin totals for 1-2-3 were O’Fallon, 12,122; Harlem, 12,024, a difference of 98 pins; and Minooka, 11,856. Two of the other expected contenders, Joliet West and Lockport Township, were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Individually, senior Becca Hagerman was state champion for the second straight year.
Meanwhile, Harlem’s swimming and diving team took fourth place at the NIC-10 meet, improving on the eighth spot it occupied last year. The Huskies then finished sixth in the Jefferson sectional, with all but a few final times exceeding their seed times. No competitors advanced to state.
And Harlem wrestlers found tough sledding at state as none of them placed. But all three are juniors and expected to return next year.
Friday semi-finals
Harlem and O’Fallon engaged in a two-team battle at the outset, with the Lady Huskies leading by just 18 pins, 3,169 to 3,151, at the lunch break. O’Fallon actually won two of the three morning games, 1,091 to 1,089 and 1,038 to 1,029. But Harlem took the first game, 1,051 to 1,022, to build enough of a cushion to help maintain its edge.
Individually, Hagerman had a strong morning, with games of 258, 279 and 224 for a 761 series that put her first among more than 100 bowlers. University of Nebraska recruit and senior Kayla Verstraete rolled a 630 to rank 19th; senior Angel Grinnall was 22nd at 627; and sophomore Olivia Watton, 38th with a 601. Junior Laura Bartelt was next with a 550 series.
O’Fallon started the afternoon session with a sub-1,000 series, at 993, compared with Harlem’s 956, which gave the Lady Panthers a 19-pin lead. O’Fallon continued to have the best games of the 24 teams at state.
At the end of the day O’Fallon led Harlem by 75 pins, 6,174 to 6,099. And Hagerman continued to lead the state individually, by 56 pins, opening the afternoon with a 257 game and following with a 213 and 215. Verstraete was 15th.
Saturday finals
Both O’Fallon and Harlem had good morning sessions and at the end of those three games, the Lady Panthers had a pinfall of 9,184 to 9,125 for the Lady Huskies, who had trimmed the deficit to 59 pins. O’Fallon took the first game, 1,079 to 1,040, but Harlem was up in games 2 and 3, by 1,005 to 1,000 and 981 to 932.
Minooka was firmly in third place and had charged a bit to reach a three-game total of 3,177 pins, best round among the 12 finalists, to pull within 192 pins of O’Fallon.

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