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Boys Bowling | Stagg charges to first state finals appearance

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By Randy Whalen
Correspondent

For Stagg, it’s a first.

For Sandburg, it’s a return trip.

Both teams survived the Plainfield North Sectional at Town & Country Lanes in Joliet to advance to the state tournament. The finals will be Friday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Jan. 28, at St. Claire Bowl in Fairview Heights.

The Chargers, who tied for fourth with Yorkville at the sectional with 6060 pins, will make their first team state finals appearance. They won the first regional title in program history on Jan. 14 and were making their second sectional appearance.

“It feels fantastic,” Stagg boys bowling coach Nick Jelcic said. “It was all close, and that’s how it will be any time we get all these teams bunched up. There were seven teams here from [the SouthWest Suburban Conference] here and it was a very tough sectional.”

A trio of those SWSC teams advanced to state, including sectional champion Lincoln-Way West (6217). Defending state champion Minooka (6200) was second, Joliet West (6105) was third placed third while Yorkville and Sandburg (6032) finished sixth.

Oak Lawn finished 15th (5615) and Marist was 16th (5374).

RedHawks senior Joe Waszak qualified for state as an individual by rolling a 1318, which tied for eighth overall.

“This feels really good,” Stagg sophomore Matt Montoya said. “It’s a lot to take in. Everyone did their part and everyone is excited. We just want to do our best and make the final day at state.”

Montoya led the Chargers with a 1,284 total and rolled a personal-best 268. Junior Tyler Hribar (1246), freshman Noah Jones (1205), junior Andrew Hallman (1165) and senior Robert Janski (1160) also contributed for Stagg.

Jones has made an impact as a freshman. He was the individual champion (1377) and rolled a 300 at the Oak Lawn Regional on Jan. 14.

“It’s crazy, I didn’t know how much it means to people,” Jones said of qualifying for state. “I saw some people crying. But I have a different mindset. I don’t let my emotions affect and overwhelm me. I just go out and work hard.”

Sandburg, which was in third place after five games, survived shooting a 904 in the sixth and final game of the sectional.

“Relief is an understatement,” Sandburg senior Gabe Castro said. “We barely clinched it but we made it. You could tell that everyone was nervous at the end and the saying that ‘every pin matters’ is so true.”

Junior Woodley Dangerfield (1330) led Sandburg and placed sixth overall. Castro (1318) was right behind and junior Adam Durkin (1191) was the only other Eagle that shot all six games. Juniors Henry Whittam (915) and Cody Andersen (717), and freshman Edmand Banks (561) also contributed to the effort.

“I got so scared and nervous,” Dangerfield admitted. “But it was our leadership, especially Gabe, and our team getting it all together. It feels so nice getting back to state.”

It’s the seventh overall and second consecutive state appearance for Sandburg. The Eagles placed a program-high fourth in state in 2022.

“We lost three really good seniors from last year and other than Gabe, everyone on this team is an underclassman,” Sandburg coach Jeff Kwilose said. “But I told the guys that if we can’t get first, let’s get second through sixth and make it to state.”

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