Oak Park and River Forest High School does not have a school-sponsored bowling program. But James Geovanes, OPRF’s intramural director, has been trying to get one started.
“We’ve never had a team, and every time we would go to [former athletic director] John Stelzer and say that we could put independent kids in [the IHSA tournament], it was a shut door,” he said. “[New OPRF Athletic Director] Nicole Ebsen came in and gave us an opportunity, and we ran with it. We’re not registered with the IHSA, but what we can do is if there are individuals that want to bowl in the state tournament, we can enlist them.”
With that in mind, Geovanes took the top five boys and top five girls from the intramural bowling program and submitted them as independents. The boys are coached by Richard Short and the girls by Melody Brown.
Three of the boys — sophomore William Zeiser and juniors Jackson Davis and Payton Wernet — competed in the Glenbard East Sectional on Jan. 22.
Though none of them qualified for the state finals, Geovanes was proud of how they acquitted themselves.
“We had no expectations because we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into,” he said. “To get three guys into the sectional was quite an accomplishment. Payton is a nationally ranked junior bowler and did a nice job, as did Jackson and William. Next year, we’ll know how it works and we’ll keep getting better.”
Another top bowler, Kelby Gray, is better known for his play on the OPRF football team.
“He would have competed at the sectional, but he was away signing his letter of intent to play college football,” said Geovanes of Gray, who committed to South Dakota. “He’s an awesome bowler.”
The IHSA girls state tournament begins Feb. 5 with regional play, and the five OPRF students taking part are Corrine Arquette, Margaret Dean, Alyssa Hasapis, Audrey Maidlow and Gracie Maidlow.
“All five competed against 35 other girls for those spots. We’re really excited for them to be the first to compete at the IHSA series for OPRF,” Geovanes said.
If the number of bowlers in OPRF’s intramural program continues to grow at a sustainable rate, Geovanes believes there’s a possibility the school will eventually sanction bowling as an official sport.
“After the season is over, we’re all going to sit down and have a conversation to see where the future is,” he said. “We’ll see how it goes.”
Fenwick boys 15th at sectionals
The Fenwick High School boys bowling team knocked down 5,438 pins to place 15th at the Glenbard East Sectional on Jan. 22, ending their season.
Junior James Dubanowich had the Friars’ top individual series with a score of 1,197 pins, while Zachary Jakatis had the team’s high game, rolling a 252.