Sterling seeks consistency, another state berth
Heather Wolf isn't walking through that door. At least not in the figurative sense.
The 2012 Sterling graduate will literally step through the entrance at Highland Park Bowl on Saturday in Moline. But she'll only be able to cheer as her Golden Warriors vie for one of two state meet berths in the United Township Sectional.
Hopefully her presence will be enough to offset what Sterling's bowlers are quick to admit has been their downfall this season: bad attitudes when the going gets tough.
"Ding! Ding! Ding! We've got a winner," Sterling senior Brandy Behrens said before practice at Blackhawk Lanes on Wednesday evening. "We haven't figured that out yet this year.
"It's weird how, when Heather left, everything got grouchy."
There's no shortage of pressure. The Warriors are seeking their fourth trip to state in 5 years, and the wave of Granzow, Behrens and Howard sisters is about to end.
"We know we're the last team capable of making it to state for a while," said senior Amber Granzow, whose sister, Kelly, was a senior on the 2008-09 team. "There's no one else coming in. There's not other sisters coming in."
Coach Dennis Black has made a verbal commitment to current junior Destinee Howard that he'll coach one more season, but even he hasn't minced words when describing what's at stake this weekend.
"Mr. Black's put the pressure on us to remind us it's our last chance," Behrens said. "He's not subtle. He said, 'This is your last chance.' "
Samantha Lewis is the third senior on the Sterling squad. Wolf will be filling her role of cheerleader Saturday, as this is the first varsity go-round for both Lewis and sophomore Magan Tintori.
Lewis says pressure has a way of bringing out her ugly side.
"It does," she said. "It brings it out of every one of us, I feel. There's always going to be one person who gets down."
Over the years, she and Granzow have learned to ground each other. They shared the same babysitter and even lived together for a spell about 6 years ago when Lewis' grandfather fell ill.
Sharing a roof and learning each other's idiosyncrasies will serve them well when they room together at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.
But the problem with the present is that anyone's ugly side can surface in any given frame, at any given meet.
"It's a different person every day," Lewis said.
Because of that, the Warriors have looked like world-beaters one game and then unravelled after a few missed spares the next.
But the fickle nature of attitudes is a two-way street, as evidenced by a Jan. 15 dual against United Township at Highland Park Bowl. After throwing a 873 middle game, the Warriors rolled back with a 1,071 in the finale to pin down a 115-pin victory.
"We've never had three good games together," Granzow said. "We just haven't done so well at the 'preventing' attitudes."
That assessment was made Wednesday, before the Warriors steadily staved off UT at Blackhawk Lanes on Thursday.
The Panthers and Moline Maroons figure to be Sterling’s chief competition at the sectional meet.
The Warriors can take comfort knowing they might be yet to throw their best three-game series this season. They’ll likely need six solid ones Saturday.
“We need a good match,” Behrens said. “It makes me nervous. It should’ve come a little earlier.”
SVM scouts girls bowling sectionals
House: Highland Park, Moline
Time: 9:45 a.m.
Teams (* – state qualifier in 2012): Abingdon, Biggsville West Central, Bloomington, Decatur Eisenhower, Decatur MacArthur, Galesburg, Hall, Illini Bluffs, Kewanee, LaSalle-Peru, Mendota, *Moline, Ottawa, Rock Island, St. Bede, *Sterling, Streator, United Township
Individuals to watch (* – individual state qualifier in 2012): *Kayla Crawford, UT so.; *Jessica Temple, L-P sr.; *Kaitlyn Padgett, Hall jr.; Jessica Howell, Moline so.; Kiely Miller, Moline jr.
Sterling averages: Amber Granzow, sr., 189, Destinee Howard, jr., 189, Brandy Behrens, sr., 176, Samantha Lewis, sr., 168, Magan Tintori, so., 165.
House: Don Carter Lanes
Time: 1:30 p.m.
Teams (* – state qualifier in 2012): Belvidere, Belvidere North, Boylan, Byron, Dixon, Freeport, *Guilford, *Harlem, Hononegah, Jefferson, Oregon, Rochelle, Rockford, Rockford Christian Life, Rockford East, Rockford Lutheran, Rockford Christian, South Beloit, Winnebago
Individuals to watch (* – individual state qualifier in 2012): Haley Solberg, Belvidere North; Brigitte Jacobs, Freeport fr.; Johanna Simmonds, Guilford so.; Taylor Hoppe, Jefferson; Lindsey Anderson, Harlem sr.; Johanna Craig, Harlem sr.
Dixon averages: Devan Gearhart, sr., 192, Autumn Day, sr., 190, Emily Quaco, so., 182, Kayla Bonnette, sr., 169, Jenna Longan, jr., 161, Ashley Currier, so., 158, Margaret Thomas, fr., 155, Michaela Bates, so., 151.