Dani Pivonka couldn’t be sure of the results.
After the last team had finished bowling at the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference meet Jan. 21, Pivonka’s friend was tallying up the totals, telling her the Spartans had beaten Morris by a mere one pin.
“I didn’t want his math to be wrong because I didn’t want my hopes to get up,” Pivonka said.
His math was right as the Spartans won with a total of 6,336 pins, earning the program’s first conference championship. Pivonka, a senior, finished in fifth place individually with a six-game series of 1,194 while senior Kayla Webb took 11th place.
“It was really exciting for the whole team,” Webb said. “It was an awesome experience and it was really exciting. That whole night I was in a good mood.”
The Spartans’ conference title has given the entire team added confidence heading into today’s Schaumburg Sectional at Poplar Creek Bowl in Hoffman Estates.
Sycamore entered the season with a deeper, more experienced squad. Even with 20 girls on the roster, Pivonka and Webb noted that the Spartans are a tighter group than in the past.
“We’re working together as a team more and supporting each other,” Webb said. “When someone gets down, we bring them up.”
“The personalities this year match better than other years,” Pivonka added.”We’re all really positive and friendly. We’ve all gotten close.”
Coach Lance Webb said the team atmosphere is a big reason for Sycamore’s success in tournaments. At the NI Big 12 meet, junior Brittany Hearn bowled a 237, way above her average, in the final game to help pull the Spartans to the win.
“Our sixth girl is typically stronger than most teams so even though we don’t have two power bowlers up top, the bottom kind of picks us up,” Lance said. “As a team, the six girls bowled really well. They all were really complementary.”
Lance said the competition at today’s sectional meet will be similar to conference. DeKalb finished sixth at the conference meet, but has qualified for state as a team the last three seasons, winning the sectional meet in 2010 and 2012.
Unlike the conference meet format of six bowlers per game, Sycamore will only have five in its lineup at sectional. Lance said he will turn to his usual lineup of Pivonka, Webb, Hearn, junior Lindsey Yunker and freshman Kelly Drake, with two substitutes ready if anybody struggles early on.
Two years ago Pivonka had the opportunity to go to the state meet as a spectator. She got a feel for the atmosphere while supporting then-teammate Halie Maxwell, who had qualified individually in 2010.
This year she’s hoping the entire Sycamore team can get up to Rockford next weekend.
“It was extremely crowded and there were a lot of teams I hadn’t seen. It was really loud and exciting,” Pivonka said. “It was a really cool experience. The whole team would just have so much fun.”