Lucas Pejakovic doesn’t mind the fact that his sport is often overshadowed by other winter sports. To him, that’s not why he’s in it.
“I’m not too worried about recognition,” he said. “I just try to get better every week and have fun because that’s what got me into bowling in the first place.”
Pejakovic, a junior from Alton High, started bowling for fun with his friends nearly 10 years ago. He started bowling for Alton in junior high and has been at it competitively for five years.
“Bowling is a lot different from all of the other winter sports,” he said. “It’s something I have enjoyed my whole life and I’m proud to be a part of a sport that’s not the most popular one at school.”
He fueled the Redbirds’ boys bowling team this year at the Illinois High School Association state finals Feb. 1 at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. He rolled a 2,697 score for 12 games to finish ninth individually, winning state medalist honors and enabling his team to take seventh place in the team finals overall. Pejakovic’s efforts helped the Redbirds get their fifth top-five finish at the state finals since 2003. His highest series was a 734 in the Southwestern Conference Tournament.
Averaging nearly 225 pins per game, he bowled four 200-plus games in O’Fallon, including a 259. He had a 1,158 effort in the Mascoutah Sectional as well, with the Redbirds placing third. Pejakovic also shot a score of 1,221 in the Collinsville Regional, where the Redbirds took third.
Though the Redbirds will lose nine seniors from last year’s team, Alton bowling coach Jeff Wosczynski will return his top bowler, in Pejakovic, to next year’s team.
“Lucas takes bowling very seriously,” Wosczynski said. “He (Pejakovic) attended a bowling camp at Wichita State University last summer, which would be like going to Duke University for basketball camp.”
Pejakovic has competed in national tournaments and will compete in this year’s Junior Gold championship in New York, a tournament that features some of the world’s best bowlers.
Pejakovic plans to bowl collegiately and study engineering upon graduating high school. He said this year’s team was special to him, and he will have a lot of friends graduating. However, he’s excited for the coming season, which he promises will be one to remember.