ORLAND | Every year T.F. South Boys Bowling Coach Eric Valiska picks his tournaments to prepare his team for the post season.
This year, all that careful planning was for naught.
Heading into the Andrew Bowling Bash, the idea was to face off with some of the state’s premier teams in a venue that hosts a sectional meet to prepare the Rebels for a run to the state finals for the third time in six years.
“There’s definitely a method to my madness,” Valiska said. “I pick the tournaments every year to prepare for something later in the season, the last couple years sectionals were here so I wanted us to get some games on these lanes.”
But tournament organizer Andrew High School this year decided to change the lanes oil patterns from the normal house and IHSA standard 41 feet to the Professional Bowlers Association Tours 36 feet.
“I thought it would help but with that oil pattern it didn’t really matter,” Valiska said. “We had no idea about the pattern so we couldn’t prepare, when I saw our first few practice balls I knew it would be tough.”
The Rebels came into the tournament with a 12-2 record in dual meets and a third place finish at the Oak Lawn tournament so expectations were high. But the Rebels were unable to adjust to the unfamiliar lanes and ended up finishing 13th.
Even team captain and 2013 state qualifier Taveon Roberson, who led T.F. South with a 511 series was well below his season average in the 570 range.
“The lane conditions affected us a lot,” Roberson said. “You rarely get to practice on lanes like this and adjusting to it takes a lot longer, we just didn’t adjust in time today.”
However, it wasn’t just the lanes that hurt the Rebels. Their inability to pick up spares cost them all day long and kept them from climbing up in the standings.
“We definitely have to pick up our spares,” Valiska said. “That’s the only thing I’m disappointed with, there’s just no excuse for not getting one pin spares.”
To put that into perspective, every missed spare costs ten pins, so missing three a game amounts to almost 100 pins over a three game series. That can be the difference between finishing in the top three or in 50th place.
Even with all the difficulties Roberson was able to find a positive in the outcome.
“We got to work on mental toughness today,” Roberson said. “It was a bad day today, I had a long talk with the younger guys and told them to just relax and try to have fun and try to learn from today to get ready for the rest of the season."