What Minooka should do with its firsthand knowledge of the 2013 IHSA Boys State Bowling Tournament presents a dilemma.
The Indians can burn any evidence they were at St. Clair Bowl in downstate O’Fallon. Erase all the memories. It’s a new beginning.
However, that is easier said than done. The unspeakable happened, and the best thing coach Derrick Rapsky’s team can do might be to learn from the experience.
“We want to forget, and we don’t want to,” Indians senior Zach Segatto said after last Saturday’s Andrew Sectional at Orland Lanes. “This day showed how well we can bowl.”
Minooka finished with a 6,510 total. All Segatto did was open the six-game sectional with a 300 and finish at 1,503. That’s a 250.3 average that led everyone statewide in sectional competition.
Segatto’s effort helped power the Indians, who had won the Minooka Regional at Channahon Lanes a week earlier, to the championship, adding to the target on their backs for the state meet Friday and Saturday at St. Clair Bowl.
Segatto, senior John Kauffman and junior Dylan Pickett were regulars in the Minooka lineup a year ago, when the Indians led the state tournament through three rounds. They were 170-some pins up on their nearest pursuer after nine games.
But in the Saturday afternoon finish, after firing a 3,311 series in the morning, they totaled a subpar 2,738. Gone were dreams of a state championship, and by one pin, they also finished fourth and returned home sans trophy.
Lockport wound up on top, followed by O’Fallon, Salem and then Minooka. The Indians were 309 pins behind Lockport, one heartbreaking pin behind Salem.
“Last year is something none of us will ever forget, one pin,” said junior Chris Dombrowski, who was on the 2013 state team. “It motivated us, pushed us harder, this year.
“We have a lot to prove [at state]. I feel a lot of us have the ability to do what we are supposed to do. It will come down to mental toughness. That can push our game up a lot.”
Rapsky said inexperience played into what happened last year.
“We want to forget what happened last year, but we still have to remember it,” he said. “It was lack of experience on everybody’s part, the kids’ and mine.
“It was my fault, too.”
A new opportunity awaits. Segatto also won a sectional title last year, and for three-fourths of the state tournament, he and his teammates were on top. Now the goal is to finish.
“We’re starting to show the mental toughness that we’ve been talking to these guys about for three years,” Rapsky said. “Zach [Segatto] struggled all year. John [Kauffman] struggled today [in the sectional], but he did enough. And what really makes a difference is when someone struggles, other guys fill in.”
Rapsky consistently has said this is Minooka’s most talented team.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said after the sectional. “There were years I felt we should have won the sectional and came up short.”
Perhaps winning the sectional, on a day when Segatto and freshman Kai Devine both rolled 300 games in the morning series, provides an omen for state.
“Two 300 games in the same series, you never see that,” Rapsky said. “Kai, I can’t say enough about him. For Zach to top 1,500, it couldn’t come at a better time. We were down the whole day to Lockport and stuck with it.”
The other sectional champions who will be at state are Belleville East, Sycamore and LaGrange Lyons. But there are six strong teams from southern Illinois and at least a couple heavyweights from the Rockford area, among others.
“There are other teams around the state that are really good,” Rapsky said. “O’Fallon is a pinnacle team, Rockford Guilford and Harlem are really good. It will be tough.”