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Sycamore’s Kyle Bonnell going into state finals with no expectations

SYCAMORE – Kyle Bonnell didn’t realize he was having the bowling day of his life until midway through the DeKalb Sectional on Saturday. The Sycamore junior knew he was having a good day, but the thought that he actually could win the meet wasn’t on his mind.

“I actually had no idea I was doing that well until my coach showed me I was in second after the fourth game,” Bonnell said. “I had no idea. At that point, I was just really happy because I knew I was doing that good. I knew I was doing good, I just didn’t know I was doing that good.”

With a six-game score of 1,375, Bonnell won the meet and became the only area bowler to qualify for the state meet this weekend in O’Fallon.

The trip to the state finals will cap off a season that has surprised coach Aaron Williams. Bonnell was consistently the third- or fourth-best bowler last season on a team that sent one bowler to the state meet.

But Bonnell came into tryouts bigger and stronger, and Williams saw marked improvement right away.

“He can throw the ball a little better now, he has more command of the ball, not letting the ball throw him,” Williams said. “He’s able to control the ball better and hitting his spots. … You saw it in tryouts, he was one of the smaller kids last year, and he’s grown four inches this year. You just looked at him, and you said, ‘This kid can be something.’ ”

Throughout the season that improvement continued. Bonnell improved his average by about 25 pins from last year.

But his progress Saturday didn’t come solely from physical improvement.

“We just kept him out of his own head,” Williams said. “He’ll bowl a bad shot and overthinks everything, so we just kind of brush it off.”

Williams expects the increase in competition at state to bump Bonnell’s play up a level Saturday, but the junior doesn’t know what to expect from the meet beyond the basics.

“I’ve just been told that it’s really fun just to go down there, to experience it,” Bonnell said.

That’s the way Williams wants it.

If Williams can keep Bonnell loose and bowling well Friday, they can talk about goals if Sycamore’s lone qualifier makes the cut.

“I’m not going to put any pressure on him because this is his first trip down there,” Williams said. “Kyle doesn’t know what the competition is. If I can get him through the first day, we’ll see where we’re at in the second day.”

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