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Harlem bowlers welcomed home from Nationals with a celebration

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The Stateline has some of the best high school bowling talent in the nation. There was more evidence of that again Tuesday afternoon at Harlem High School.

The Harlem girls and boys bowling teams returned from Indianapolis. That’s where the girls won the high school national championship this past weekend and the boys team finished in third place.

Both teams were greeted by a gathering of fans at the school. The teams arrived on a school bus escorted by a fire engine.

This is the third straight year that the girls have won Nationals. Individually three of the girls placed in the top eight and five in the top 30. As a team Harlem set a national record for the highest score ever in the championship round. This takes some of the sting out of their second place finish at State back in February.

“To be able to come back and say we’re national champions and no matter what happened at State we’re 49 states better now. Yes it means a lot to us. It’s just amazing!,” said senior Rebecca Hagerman. Hagerman finished fifth individually.

“This was the best feeling ever to finish off on a high note with the best girls around,” said senior Kayla Verstraete. She finished sixth individually.

“They were on a mission,” said Harlem girls coach Jim Heathscott. “From Friday night when we practiced to Saturday morning they weren’t letting anybody take it from them.”

The Harlem boys were led to their third place finish at Nationals by senior Noah Mandujano. He was the boys individual national champion. He averaged 245 during the tournament.

“It feels great to have what has been done happen,” said Mandujano. “I pushed myself stronger…harder and harder to accomplish what I did.”

Mandujano will be bowling for Rock Valley College next season.

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