Boys Bowling: Andrew focused for, not on, title defense
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media November 4, 2012 4:16PM
Andrew bowler Justin Finnen. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
TOP SOUTHLAND TEAMS
Andrew: Can the defending state champions go back to back? The Thunderbolts have talent to contend again.
Richards: The Bulldogs finished ninth in the state last season in just their third year with a team. David Walker (19th in the state last season) and Andrew Byland (28th) form one of the state’s top 1-2 punches.
Lincoln-Way East: The Griffins made a surprising run to state last season with four juniors among their top five. East will be looking for more consistency this season.
Oak Lawn: The Spartans have advanced to state the past two seasons and are positioned to make another run behind four seniors with big-tournament experience.
Brother Rice: The Crusaders fell short of the state tournament last season but have a shot to return as Chris Roti and Billy Foertsch are four-year varsity starters and junior Terrance Evans had a strong sophomore campaign.
Others to watch: Lockport, Morgan Park, Mount Carmel, Sandburg, St. Rita
(in alphabetical order)
Andrew Byland, sr., Richards: Byland was the South Suburban Blue champion last season and tossed a 300 game at the Tinley Park Invitational.
Justin Finnen, sr., Andrew: Finnen averaged 204 at last year’s state meet.
Kyle Krol, sr, Andrew: A four-year varsity performer, Krol has the skills to emerge as the Thunderbolts’ top bowler.
Brandon Nathan, sr., Lincoln-Way East: In 2011-12, Nathan peaked in the postseason, culminating in a 25th place finish at state.
Anthony Pena, sr., T.F. South: The 2010-11 South Suburban Blue champion returns after living in Florida last season.
Perry Sibby, jr., Southland College Prep: Sibby’s run to state last season made him the biggest sports star at the new Richton Park school.
Ken VandeWerken, sr., Oak Lawn: VandeWerken and fellow senior Ryan Campin have led the Spartans to plenty of success the last two seasons.
David Walker, sr., Richards: Walker averaged 205 last season and raised his game at state, where he averaged 215.
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:11AM
As the defending state champion, Andrew knows what to expect when it shows up to compete this season.
“Every time you walk in the door at a tournament, people are going to be like ‘There’s the state champs,’ ” Andrew coach Mark Lobes said. “Every match you have, it’ll be, ‘Oh, let’s beat the state champs today.’ ”
Thunderbolts senior Kyle Krol thinks his team can ignore the hype.
“You just have to zone into your own game,” he said. “It’s more about focusing on what you want to accomplish. You can get all the attention, but when it comes time to work, you need to work.”
Krol knows it’ll be up to him and fellow senior Justin Finnen to help their teammates stay focused.
The pair will be counted on as leaders after the graduation of Josh Powell and Josh Dory — who finished fourth and seventh, respectively, at state last season — and Kyle Damon.
“I kind of want to share the duties with Justin,” Krol said. “It’s not about putting yourself No. 1, but about getting everyone else to feel comfortable and jell together. That’s key in every sport and it’s important in bowling, too.”
The last time they were on the lanes for a high school event, Krol tossed a 256 and Finnen a 221 as the Thunderbolts put up a monster score of 1,196 in the final game of the state tournament, rallying for the title.
“That was special,” Krol said. “That last game was our true potential coming out. We had such a good starting five and we finally pulled it all together at the end.”
Lobes sees his two seniors bowling with a different attitude after being part of those last-game heroics.
“I honestly see them bowling with more confidence,” Lobes said. “They’ve made slight adjustments to their technique and that’s part of getting older and maybe a little taller. They’ve already been talking to new varsity players about what they should change. It’s nice to have that team atmosphere.”
In addition to Krol and Finnen, the Thunderbolts are counting on three juniors: Nick Ghilardi, Mike Dertz and Brad Kuwalia. Ghilardi and Dertz were on the state championship roster, though neither bowled at state.
“The kids who have come up were all really successful at the (freshman and sophomore) levels,” Lobes said. “The good thing is last year we cycled our freshmen and sophomores into the varsity invites, so they’ve gotten used to the atmosphere of bowling with a bunch of teams and bowling six games a day. All that helps.”
Lobes sees a squad that’s eager to show it can be as good as last season’s team.
“For me, it’s like a weight off my shoulders that I was able to achieve a state championship,” Lobes said. “But for them, it gives them an eagerness to prove themselves.”
Finnen, for one, is confident they’ll be able to do that.
“We have a little more work to do this year than last year, but I think we can do a lot of the same things as last year,” he said. “I think we have a chance to repeat.”