When you save your best for last, it’s more meaningful. Alton High’s Tyler Stevenson can relate to that. He concluded his bowling season in the heart of the pocket. Stevenson finished in the fast lane.
The junior left-hander got going in the Cahokia Sectional and put it all together in the IHSA finals at St. Clair Bowl in Fairview Heights. His quick closing, along with a solid season, earned Stevenson the AdVantage News’ Boys’ Bowler of the Year.
“He came through at the right time,” AHS coach Jeff Woszczynski said. “Something really clicked for him at the sectional and then it continued at state.”
Stevenson spun a 1,381 at the sectional and followed that effort with a 2,595 total at state, placing him 48th in the finals. He shot games of 256, 219 and 210 to close in a hurry at St. Clair Bowl. His 685 series the final day enabled him to sport a two-day average of 216.3 pins.
“It was one of the highlights of my bowling career,” said Stevenson, eyeing bigger and better things next winter. He averaged 199 for the season and spun a 300 game in the mid-season Alton Tournament.
He added, “Going to state as a team and being in the top 50 individually was a great way to finish the season, especially since we kind of struggled during the regular season.”
Stevenson kept his struggles to a minimum and his perfect game in the Alton tourney may have spurred his second-half surge when the Redbirds were at their best.
“Our intensity and focus increased the second half of the season,” he said. “Once we hit the sectional, we knew there was a sense of urgency.”
Stevenson’s knack for bowling came naturally. Dad Gene is one of the finest bowlers in the River Bend and has shot a dozen perfect games, Tyler said.
“He was proud of me when I got my 300 game,” Stevenson said. “He has really influenced me. I wouldn’t be bowling without my dad helping me. He has really helped me with both the physical and mental parts of bowling.”
Woszczynski figures the best is yet to come from Stevenson. He averaged 206 as a sophomore and 199 the past season.
“Tyler didn’t start bowling until his eighth-grade year, so he is still learning the game,” Woszczynski said. “But we were pleased with his progress and he will only improve over time. I expect him to have a great season next year.”
Stevenson aims to strive for more steady showings his senior season and improve his scores.
“My goal is to raise my average to get better in the standings,” he said. “Whenever I’m feeling it with my game, I don’t change anything. What I need to do is treat every match as if I was bowling at state and it was my last game.”
One of his goals next season is to return to St. Clair Bowl and possibly bring the rest of the team with him. The second part may be a tall task.
“We’re losing eight seniors from this team, so we don’t have a lot of experience,” he said. Stevenson and junior Derek Henderson are the only top returning keglers.
Stevenson noted, “I’ve really enjoyed going to state both years and it was great to make it to the second day this year. It was a fun experience, although I would have rather had the entire team with me.
“My long-range goal is to try and medal at state.”
I’d love to do that. But I have to keep working at it and work on my shooting of spares. It’s about being more consistent.”
He also plays soccer in the fall; thus Stevenson isn’t certain what sport he will play after he finishes high school.
“It would depend upon the scholarship, but I definitely want to go to college and play soccer or bowl,” Stevenson said.