Men's Bowling Take Playoffs
by Ethan Lim
Waveland Bowl, the iconic bowling alley located just west of Wrigley Field, was the host of the Chicago Public School’s men’s bowling playoffs on Monday, January 8, 2018. It may have been the first day back from the winter holiday, but Northside’s varsity men’s bowling team was fully prepared to face the competition. Countless hours of practice placed Northside in an optimal position to advance to the city finals. Facing tough opponents like Walter Payton, Taft, and Amundsen did not faze captains Blake Lehman, Adv. 804, Joey Reynolds, Adv. 809, and Fernando Velazquez, Adv. 800, the fearless leaders of the team.
The top four schools would advance on to the city final. Individual bowlers could also qualify for the individual city final, even if their own school did not make it. In the first game, the Mustangs played Dawid Kasprzyk, Adv. 809, Lawson Garner, Adv. 805, Velazquez, Lehman, and Reynolds up to the line. The lineup in the first game was purposefully stacked in order to intimidate the competition. Combined, the bowlers scored 685 pins. A valiant effort, yet still falling short behind the Taft Eagles and Payton Grizzlies.
Representing the ‘Stang Gang in the second game, Northside fronted a fresh George McCoy, Adv. 805, and Miguel Rascon, Adv. 809, to replace Kasprzyk and Velazquez. However, Lehman, Reynolds, and Garner remained in the lineup. Lehman was bowling an impeccable game, leading the charge with great command over the ball. The rest of the group continued to do their part, as Northside totalled a whopping 780 pins to finish off the second game. Payton and Taft were beginning to solidify themselves as city final qualifiers, however, the last two spots were still up in the air between Amundsen, Schurz, and Northside.
In the third and final game, the coaches decided to only sub out Garner for Velazquez. The team would have to top their first game score in order to take that third/fourth spot place away from Amundsen and Schurz. Lehman continued his supreme bowling prowess, as he gave everything he could to retain what little lead they had over the opposition. Velazquez and Reynolds also had impressive frames of back-to-back spares and strikes to help Northside take a slight lead. McCoy and Rascon bowled excellently as well, hitting a few crucial spares down the line. Despite the combined team efforts made by the Mustangs, Northside fell short of Schurz by 35 pins. Schurz obtained the fourth place spot and advanced to the CPS varsity bowling team city finals, while Northside would be stuck with a bitter fifth place finish.
However, seniors Velazquez and Lehman were recognized by CPS for their outstanding efforts in the playoffs and were rewarded All-Conference in the North Division (eight schools). Furthermore, both Reynolds and Lehman in the placed top ten overall individually. Thus, as noted before, they will be representing Northside in the CPS Varsity Bowling Individual City Finals. When asked about his success, Lehman said, “The captains and I did the best we could to carry the team on our backs. We happily enjoyed the responsibility and understood that there would always be a higher standard demanded from us. Although we took an L, I’m proud of our team because of all the other dubs we took this season.” Northside should be very proud of the season that the team had. Regardless of the outcome of individual city finals, which Lehman and Reynolds will be participating in, the future looks bright for aspiring underclassmen bowlers.