Morgan Park finished ninth at the state meet Saturday at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. It was the best finish ever for a Public League team. Previously, no Public League team had made the top 12 cut to compete in the second day of the tournament.
The Mustangs seemed headed for a similar fate, sitting in 19th after four games Friday, but they rallied to climb to ninth. They remained in that position throughout the second day.
“After the fourth game, we all got together and said we’re not bowling like we should,” assistant coach Norm Whitenhill said. “Then we got it going.”
Seniors Byron Lawson (44th, 2,510) and Harold Barbee (65th, 2,368) led the Mustangs. Senior Kendrick Wilson, junior Duane Campbell and sophomores Jabari Johnson and Charles Berry also contributed.
“I was hoping to do this with this group,” Lawson said. “We’re not just a team, we’re like a family. We hang out, we go to each other’s houses. It’s great that we did this together.”
Richards continued its strong season by capturing the South Suburban Red title Saturday at Palos Lanes, topping Evergreen Park by 89 pins.
The Bulldogs (5,704) were led by Jessica Kimbrough (1,209), who finished third, and Sara McNeilly (1,179), who took fifth.
Evergreen Park had the top two bowlers, conference champion Elan Page (1,268) and Daisha Garrison (1,239).
Richards will be one of the top contenders at Saturday’s Sandburg Regional, where South Suburban Blue champion Lemont also is hoping to make some noise.
“(Winning the Blue) was a big confidence boost for us and hopefully we can keep it going at regionals,” Lemont coach Mark Hollatz said. “The great thing is the IHSA finally moved us east. We’ve been in loaded sectionals out west the last few years. Last year, we had one of the highest sectional scores in the state and didn’t advance (finishing third).”
Lockport is the favorite in the Sandburg Regional, where the host Eagles, Reavis and Bremen are among the teams to watch.
The postseason begins this week and area gymnasts are split across two regional sites.
The Sandburg-Stagg co-op squad and Lockport individuals Kacie Kenney and Kaitlyn Lee head to the Neuqua Valley Regional at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lincoln-Way East will host the Lincoln-Way co-op squad, Andrew and Homewood-Flossmoor plus Shepard individuals Skylor Hilger and Reilly Longawa at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
The two regionals feed into the Hinsdale Central Sectional on Feb. 12.
Lincoln-Way has the best shot of winning a regional as it drew the fourth seed in the sectional. Lyons, Naperville North and Neuqua Valley drew the top three seeds. Sandburg-Stagg is the 11th seed, Andrew 12th and Homewood-Flossmoor 13th in the 16-team sectional.
Hilger, who qualified for state in all-around but did not compete because of an illness, Lincoln-Way’s Maggie Schultz and Lockport’s Kenney have the best shots of making it to state as individuals.