In 2012 and 2013, Sycamore’s Brendan Fank made the trip to O’Fallon for the bowling state tournament.
However, Fank was in the St. Louis area to watch his teammates, Tony O’Donnell in 2012 and Kyle Bonnell in 2013, bowl as individuals.
Watching those two, Fank got the itch to make his own voyage to O’Fallon. This season, Fank, a senior, was the top bowler on a Spartans team that earned a spot at state and placed 15th.
“The state experience was absolutely awesome,” Fank said. “It was such a relief to get that guarantee for me and my teammates. We got to bowl and show our stuff.”
Fank had a six-game series of 1,296 on the first day. Although Sycamore didn’t qualify, Fank earned an individual spot in the finals, where he rolled a 1,313. He finished with a two-day total of 2,609, an average of 217.4, which was good for 23rd place.
For his efforts, Fank is the 2014 Daily Chronicle Boys Bowler of the Year. DeKalb’s Michael Belluzzi also was considered for the award.
Overall, it was a great weekend for Fank. Not only did he get the state experience, but he bowled a 300 game and ended up signing with Lindenwood University in nearby Belleville.
In his third game on the second day of competition, with his teammates watching, Fank rolled a 300. He was one of three bowlers to roll a perfect game, with one of the others being Bonnell, who got his on the the first game of Day 1.
“That 12th frame – shakes, shakes. I went back, it was chaos, everyone was giving me high-fives,” Fank said. “Everyone was giving me hugs. My teammates, other kids from other teams. I can’t express how much the team meant to me and supported me throughout this whole journey.”
After the Spartans competed after the first day, Fank went to and visited Lindenwood, where he previously had committed. He actually had left the event before the standings were posted, and got a phone call saying he had advanced individually. He signed with the university that Sunday, the day after the finals.
The Spartans had three freshmen in their lineup this season. Sycamore coach Aaron Williams said Fank did a good job mentoring the rest of the group.
“He’s all about the team,” Williams said. “There’s not one part of him that’s an individual, it’s all about the team for that kid.”
One freshman Fank took under his wing was Trevor Smith, who rolled a 1,382 in the Rockford Boylan Sectional – the Spartans’ top score as Sycamore won a sectional title.
“He played a huge part in us getting to state, and he’s thrown his stuff throughout the season,” Fank said. “He showed up at sectionals and kind of gave us that push to get to state.”
DAILY CHRONICLE BOYS BOWLING ALL-AREA TEAM
Michael Belluzzi, DeKalb, junior
Belluzzi was a rock for DeKalb, which won the regional tournament partly because of Belluzzi's 1,383 series, the highest of any bowler. The DeKalb junior finished second in the Northern Illinois Big 12 and bowled a 300 game in mid-November against LaSalle-Peru.
Kyle Bonnell, Sycamore, senior
Last year's Boys Bowler of the Year, Bonnell once again was a steady contributor Sycamore. He averaged better than 200 pins in conference play and also bowled a 300 in the first game of the state tournament.
Alex Burchard, Sycamore, senior
Burchard came through in the clutch at sectionals for Sycamore, bowling a 1,316 six-game series to help the Spartans qualify for state. His 208 average in conference placed him eighth individually.
Brendan Fank, Sycamore, senior
Fank, this year's Boys Bowler of the Year, was one of three senior leaders for a Sycamore team that managed to qualify for the state tournament. He posted the fourth-best average in the conference and finished up the season with a 300 game at state.
Will Todtz, DeKalb, junior
Todtz was another part of a solid DeKalb core, placing third in the conference with a 211 average. He took 10th at regional with a 1,278 series, helping the Barbs to a regional title.
– Ross Jacobson, email@example.com