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Junior Tommy Hennessy and his Lyons Township High School boys bowling teammates needed a lift after a subpar fourth game at the Glenbard East Sectional on Jan. 22 to reach the state meet.

Jackson Chadesh, a 2020 graduate who placed 10th at state as one of the Lions’ two individual qualifiers two seasons ago, happened to be among the spectators and was immediately summoned.

“We said, ‘Chadesh. We need a pep talk. Get us going for Game 5. Let’s go to state,’” Hennessy said. “He was able to give us a good pep talk, was able to clear all our heads for us and we had a great Game 5.”

The Lions rebounded in those final two games to finish third and earn their first team berth to the IHSA state finals since 2018 by finishing among the top six sectional teams.

LTHS (6,297) averaged 209.9 pins per game. Hennessy’s 1,363 six-game series (227 average) finished sixth overall and included games of a competition-best 262 and 257, followed by senior Dylan Holtz (1,296, 247 high game), junior Drew Escamilla (1,254, 234), senior Jalen Pfaff (1,243, 228) and junior Jack Pochocki (1,141, 214). 

Other postseason team members are senior Matt Skwarek and junior Michael Kubrick, who both competed at the Hinsdale South Regional on Jan. 15, and senior Xavier Gawel Barden.

None of the Lions has competed before at state, but LTHS coach Gary Morrill told them immediately after last season that they had the potential.

“I said, ‘[Next season] starts now and it starts with all of you. I want you guys to be together. Get your own chat group. Go out and practice together.’ And they did,” Morrill said. “This year we started pretty much where they left off at [in 2021] and we were just able to build.”  

After their lowest score in the fourth game (960) at the Jan. 22 sectional meet, the Lions had dropped to sixth place. In the fifth game, they improved to 1,150 (230 average) – the second highest game score that day and one of the Lions’ best all season. 

After only three open frames, they finished the game with 42 consecutive marks (28 strikes, 14 spares). Hennessy’s fifth-game high of 257 included seven straight strikes and 10 overall. 

“Individually, I’ve been bowling great. I’ve been able to string the strikes together, which is the biggest part,” Hennessy said. “But I’m more happy with how we did as a team and that’s definitely more fun to go as a team to state.”