Harlem, Hagerman and Auburn’s Bannister earn state bowling hardware

Sports Connection

It was an emotional final day of the IHSA girls state bowling tournament Saturday at the Cherry Bowl. The Harlem Huskies came up just short of pulling off a third straight state championship.

The Huskies finished second 98 pins behind O’Fallon. As a team Harlem averaged 200.4 for the four rounds of the tournament.

The Huskies were in tears as the tournament wrapped up, partly out of disappointment for not being able to win another title, and partly because they know this team won’t compete together again at least at the IHSA level. Three seniors ended their careers Rebecca Hagerman, Kayla Vestraete and Angel Grinnall.

Hagerman went out on top by repeating as the individual state champion. she averaged 222.5 for the tournament. It was a bitter-sweet championship for her.

“Even though I won I would rather be a team champion than what I am right now,” Hagerman told Eyewitness News. “I am so proud of my teammates because we fought for this and I’m okay with where we ended up because we gave it our all.”

“They’ve had a phenomenal three years I mean, this is the first tournament in three years they have not won in the postseason and it wasn’t by lack of effort,” said Harlem coach Jim Heathscott. “These girls are awesome!”

Verstraete finished 14th individually with a 204.3 average for the tournament.

One of the most impressive bowlers this weekend was Auburn’s Caitlyn Bannister. She finished in third place individually and she’s only a sophomore. Bannister averaged 211.0.  She finished the tournament with games of 214 and 215.

“It’s unbelievable!,” said Bannister. “It hasn’t even sunk in yet to be honest with you, but I know I couldn’t do it without my parents, my friends, my coaches, everyone behind me supporting me.”

Sycamore finished in ninth place as a team. 12 teams competed on the final day Saturday. 24 teams qualified for the tournament.

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