The adrenal gland. Oftentimes, it can be like the human anatomy’s Rubik’s Cube.
Katlyn Bay found that out first-hand March 22 at Town & Country Lanes in Joliet.
The Reagan Middle School eighth-grader opened her 10-game experience at the IESA state bowling tournament with a 279. The only pin she didn’t knock down with her first ball was the 10 in the eighth frame. She converted the single-pin spare and threw four more strikes to set the new girls record and tie the boys’ record.
Throughout the game, she was as cool as Fonzie.
“I just wasn’t really paying attention to what my score was,” Katlyn said. “We were just talking about other things. I was really relaxed about it.”
When the dust from the overpowered pins cleared, Bay stood atop the all-time leaderboard. There was only one problem. Well, nine of them.
“Coming down off a big game like that is hard,” her dad and longtime bowler, John, said. “She was in the pocket all game. No Brooklyns. One pin away from a 300.
“After you throw eight strikes in a row and miss one, that adrenaline kind of goes away.”
“At that point, I knew I was up in the standings,” Katlyn said. “I was kind of freaking out about if I was going to do well.”
The nerves showed. But, despite throwing back-to-back 156s and a 173 to wrap up the first-day series, Bay’s 764 series was tied for the lead with New Lenox Liberty’s Haley Jabloski.
“It was hers to lose, basically,” her mother, Debbie, playfully jabbed. She also was happy to point herself out as “the weakest link” in the bowling family.
Both bowlers were overtaken by Barrington Prairie’s Sarah Tenyer, who eclipsed 250 twice during her six-game series Saturday to win the title with 2,005 total pins.
Bay took second with 1,834. She trailed Jabloski by 23 pins going into the 10th game. Three games prior to the finale, she rolled an abysmal 136 and had to shake off the lingering effects.
“It was kind of a downer, and I thought it would push me back in the standings,” Bay said.
Nothing like a 201 to pick up one’s spirits, although they were dampered by a 168. The 14-year-old mustered up just enough adrenaline and strength, after throwing almost 200 shots in about 24 hours, to throw a 203 in the finale.
Despite the valiant close, weighing her silver medal against the record-setting opening game was no contest.
“The high game, just because it’s my own personal record,” Bay said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”
Her previous best was a 255 in her Friday Rockford league, in which her average sits in the low-150s. On Saturdays, she’s the only girl on her five-bowler team.
On Saturday in Joliet, she won some lunch money off fellow Reagan eighth-grader Austin Wilson, who knocked down 1,683 pins for a 31st-place finish.
But more importantly, she got to relish her favorite aspect of bowling: making new friends.
“If you’re not bowling too well, they tell you to let go of it,” Katlyn said. “That’s what I love about bowling, just being on a team.”
And she’s on plenty of them. She plays volleyball and softball, plays the flute in the band, sings in the choir and will perform as one of the Mer-sisters in “The Little Mermaid Jr.,” the third production this school year by the Woodlawn Arts Academy.
Also the November Student of the Month, Katlyn has a smart response for those who belittle bowling.
“I think that’s ridiculous,” she said. “I want to see them go out and bowl a perfect game, or throw 10 games in 2 days, and see how they feel after that. There’s a lot more to it than people think.”
She said it
Katlyn’s older sister, Sam, knows that struggle all too well. The 2012 Dixon graduate was surrounded by some pretty rabid galleries at sectionals.
“It’s really hard,” Sam said. “You know everybody around you was watching you bowl that awesome game, and then they’re kind of expecting you to bowl another one.”