Everything seemed foreign for the DeKalb boys bowling team last season, its first as a varsity program.
Although many of the Barbs had bowled in tournaments when they were younger, the larger invitationals, the team aspect of high school bowling and the pressure of bigger meets all were new.
When sectionals rolled around, DeKalb couldn’t overcome its inexperience, finishing in eighth place out of 15 teams at Oregon.
“When we went to sectionals, they were extremely nervous, me included,” DeKalb coach Ernie Pinne said. “It was our first time at a big invite.”
But just as everything was a new experience for DeKalb in Year One, the schedule was old hat this season.
DeKalb showed flashes of its potential throughout the season, placing second in the LaSalle-Peru Invitational and beating Dixon – which won the sectional meet last year – in a dual meet. The Barbs had a 100-pin lead on Dixon after five games in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference tournament, but couldn’t hold on, taking second.
“That gives me the confidence that we can do this,” junior Seth Pinne said. “We just have to show up, act as a team and pick each other up.”
Much like the DeKalb program, which still very much is in its young stages, the Barbs sport a roster filled with mostly nonseniors. Freshman Ranzy Collins has been starting most of the season and had one of his better performances with a 659 series against Marengo on Wednesday.
“He’s a freshman, so he still rides the roller coaster a little bit,” coach Pinne said. “He started out kind of slow [Wednesday] and I had him make a ball change, and the ball change worked out really well.”
DeKalb also will have the advantage of bowling at its home alley at Mardi Gras Lanes in today’s DeKalb Sectional. The team has a greater familiarity with the oil patterns on the lanes.
“I like bowling in different houses, but since it’s at home and we’ve been throwing on the same pattern for the last month, it shouldn’t be too hard,” sophomore Will Totdz said.
Coach Pinne hadn’t set a starting lineup as of Thursday. He wanted to break down the numbers for his team throughout the year, noting that many of the Barbs bowled better in invitationals than dual meets.
But the overall goal for DeKalb is to place in the top two and advance to state. After a season in which everything was familiar, the Barbs are hoping to experience something new.
“I expect us to get down to state,” Seth Pinne said. “From what we did in conference, we can do it.”