FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Chris Perkey ended his two-year high school bowling career on a high note on Saturday in the second round of the IHSA state boys' bowling tournament at St. Clair Bowl.
The Alton senior bowled a strike on his final roll on lane 20. Then, he received congratulations from his teammate, junior Tyler Stevenson, and his coaches.
“I ended it pretty good and that’s a plus,” Perkey said.
But Perkey is upset that he’s not going to bowl again for the Redbirds. He’s one of five bowlers Alton will lose to graduation next year.
“It was kind of depressing that it was my last ball thrown as a high school bowler, but it’s pretty fun,” Perkey said.
Perkey helped the Redbirds qualify for the state tournament for the ninth time in 10 years this season. Alton came up one place short of advancing to the second round on Saturday as it finished 13th after the first day.
The Redbirds finished with a six-game score of 6,330 after the first day, but Andrew beat Alton by 28 pins to earn the 12th and final spot in the second round.
“Overall, the boys shot great,” Alton coach Jeff Woszczynski said. “6,300 will get you to the next day and any other year, except for this year. It’s one of those things.”
Perkey and Stevenson qualified for the second round as individuals. Stevenson finished 48th with a 12-game score of 2,595 and Perkey placed 57th with a 2,558. Alton didn’t have an all-state medalist for the first time since 2011.
“They did a great job coming in,” Woszczynski said. “They were down a little bit before everything started, so they had to make up a lot of ground. They came out here and they were relaxed and did a great job for the conditions that we faced today.”
Alton finished 5-9 overall and 4-8 in Southwestern Conference play. The Redbirds placed third in regionals and qualified for state for the third year in a row by finishing fifth in sectionals at Bel-Air Bowl last week.
“The boys really responded the last couple of weeks,” said Woszczynski, who is stepping down as Alton coach after 16 years. “For some reason, everything started to click then and it started to work. I thought we had a great chance to make it to the second day. It’s really kind of a shame to see the season end because now we’re really in the upswing.”
The Redbirds competed at state for the 10th time in program history. Stevenson said he was pleased with the way his team performed after losing its top bowler from last year, Lucas Pejakovich, to graduation.
“You’ve got to credit the bowlers and coaches and everyone who has supported us,” said Stevenson, who competed at state for the second straight year. “At the beginning of the year, people thought that we weren’t going to make it past regionals. We made it all the way to state and were 28 pins away from going to the second round. We came a long way this year.”
Perkey competed at state for the first time this weekend. He was the Redbirds’ top performer in the first round on Friday, bowling a six-game series of 1,316, including a 258 in the first game.
On Saturday, Perkey bowled a 1,242 in the second round. In the final game, he bowled a strike in the first six frames before finishing with a 219.
“I decided to go out and have fun with it,” said Perkey, who plans to attend Southern Illinois University Edwardsville next year and major in accounting. “It’s my last game as a high school bowler. I just hit my mark and hope the pins fall.”
Perkey joined the Alton bowling program in his junior year after being cut in his first two years. This year, Perkey was part of a senior class that included Jacob Donahue, Matt Fritz, Nik Meggos and Will Paisley.
“He really came along the last couple of weeks,” Woszczynski said. “He did a great job. He started to try to keep his balance and trying to keep the hand in the right position. Unfortunately, I wished we had one more year with him because there are some things that we like to work with him on, but he’s just going to move on now.”