Girls Bowling: Sandburg’s Nicole Powell hopes to split with Lincoln-Way West’s Morgan Flaherty
By Steve Millar For Sun-Times Media February 6, 2013 8:30PM
Sandburg's Nicole Powell. | File photo
GIRLS STATE BOWLING
When: Friday and Saturday
Where: The Cherry Bowl, Rockford
SOUTHLAND TEAM QUALIFIERS
Lockport: Ashley Hostert (Jr.), Nikki Mendez (Fr.), Savannah Smith (Sr.), Marissa Soverino (Jr.), Megan Szczepanski (Sr.), Nicole Troha (Jr.), Allyson Ware (Sr.), Bri Zabierek (Sr.). Coach Art Cwudzinski.
Sandburg: Nicole Anderson (Sr.), Kayla Arnold (Jr.), Jess Colson (Jr.), Elizabeth Fazy (Jr.), Maddie Gowgiel (Soph.), Bridget Murphy (Jr.), Alyssa Pinkos (Sr.), Nicole Powell (Sr.). Coach Joe Geiger.
T.F. South: Charity Bickom (Sr.), Kaila Garcia (Jr.), Lauren Hart (Sr.), Amber Montejano (Jr.), Natalie Pascual (Jr.), Shannon Pollard (Sr.), Madalin Tiltges (Fr.), Cassandra Winters (Fr.). Coach Bob Quayle,
Lemont: Kyra Udziela (Soph.)
Lincoln-Way West: Morgan Flaherty (Sr.)
Oak Lawn: Shannon McGuire (Soph.)
Rich South: Salest Stewart (Sr.)
T.F. North: Kadejah Stephens (Sr.)
Updated: March 8, 2013 7:36AM
Lincoln-Way West’s Morgan Flaherty and Sandburg’s Nicole Powell once were doubles partners in a bowling league.
That’s quite the duo, considering what the two friends did last year: Flaherty won the state title and Powell took second.
For Powell, as exciting as that was, it’s also been a heck of a source of motivation.
“Coming that close but finishing second, it’s been my motivation since the day after state last year,” she said. “I told Morgan that I was coming for her this year. I’ve worked so hard and I think it’s finally paying off.”
Powell posted the top sectional score in the state Saturday, piling up 1,469 pins over six games (244.8 average) to win the Bremen Sectional by a whopping 237.
It was the fifth straight tournament won by Powell, following titles at the Reavis Invitational, Oak Forest Invitational, SouthWest Suburban Blue Tournament and Eisenhower Invitational.
She hasn’t left a tournament without a first-place trophy since before Christmas, and she enters the state meet — which begins Friday and concludes Saturday at The Cherry Bowl in Rockford — as the state’s hottest bowler.
She’s also squarely focused on one goal.
“There’s only one way to go: up,” she said. “There’s only one spot I can get that would be higher than last year. I think I have a really good shot, but there are a lot of other great bowlers out there like (Lockport’s Bri Zabierek) and, of course, Morgan.”
Flaherty hasn’t dominated the way Powell has throughout the season, but she seems to have found her form at the right time.
She captured the individual title at arguably the state’s toughest sectional Saturday, taking the Rich East Sectional crown with 1,386 pins (231 average), 74 more than Zabierek.
Flaherty said her focus has been lacking at times this season, and said that’s the key for her to have success this weekend.
“I just have to be really focused on every shot,” she said. “I can’t get ahead of myself. I just have to stay slow and stay behind the ball.”
Flaherty already has her place in Lincoln-Way West history as the school’s first state champion. Becoming the first repeat champion since Rockford East’s Liz Berg in 1998 and ’99 would leave quite a legacy.
“I can’t even imagine what it would be like to win it again,” Flaherty said. “I try not to put that pressure on myself. I know how hard it will be and I just want to do my best.”
Powell said she and Flaherty talked a bit after sectionals.
“When we get to Rockford, I think the trash-talk will really start then,” Powell said, with a laugh.
In the team race, Lockport figures to be the top local contender.
The Porters won the loaded Rich East Sectional in convincing fashion, topping Minooka by 237 pins.
Lockport’s Zabierek finished 14th last year after qualifying individually. It’s the Porters’ first team state appearance since they won the 2009 title.
Sandburg will look to improve on last year’s 16th-place finish while T.F. South is making its first appearance since 2007.