Alton High School bowler Ashley Heistand’s career started in a very humble manner.
“It was just a good time for me back then,” Heistand said. “I wasn’t that good for a long time, but I made a lot of friends. It was something that was fun for me to do.”
Heistand, a senior, started bowling in the third grade at Riverboat Lanes in Godfrey. When she entered middle school, she started to take the sport more seriously and began bowling more frequently and more seriously. Heistand started bowling for Alton High her freshman year and compiled an impressive list of accomplishments in the last four years. This year, she placed fourth in the Collinsville Regional as an individual and advanced to sectional competition.
Her individual performances earned her the Riverbend AdVantage News Girls Bowler of the Year. She shared the award with teammate Eryka Graham last year.
But most of all, the senior remembers her team’s performance.
“We all bowled pretty well,” she said. “A good friend of mine (Alex Bergin) bowled very well.”
Alton placed second in the regional behind Collinsville.
“There was a lot of excitement,” Heistand said. “Collinsville is our biggest competitor. We bowl well when they bowl well. It’s friendly competition.”
In her junior year, Heistand placed third in the Collinsville Regional and fourth in sectional competition to qualify for state. She placed 28th in the state tournament in Rockford. But Heistand doesn’t take all of the credit for her success.
“It’s a good experience to have,” she said of her successful junior season. “It’s about working for your team. You have the rest of the team to lift you up and you make a lot of friends all over the place.”
The senior attended the state tournament in Rockford during her freshman year as a part of a state qualifying team. She only bowled a few frames.
“It’s different going as a team,” Heistand said. “You have all of these people there to support you. It’s a little more intimidating being there by yourself.”
While she started to take the sport more seriously during her middle school years, being in the heat of varsity action made her want to work even harder.
“It was a learning experience overall,” Heistand said. “It made me want to prepare for a high school career. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and that I would have to spend more time with it.”
She started bowling in leagues in the winter and summer; she dedicated herself to the sport all year around.
“I learned how to have confidence in myself,” Heistand said. “I also learned hard work and dedication pay off.”
Heistand played softball her freshman and sophomore year but quit to concentrate on bowling.
“I just wanted to spend more time with bowling,” she said. “I was losing a lot of practice due to softball.”
The bowler shot her best score, a 289, in the Abe Lincoln Tournament in Springfield her sophomore year. Heistand won the tournament as an individual.
“I bowled very well but had a bad second game,” she said. “But I buckled down after that and shot very well.”
The senior said Alton bowling coach Dave Meyer played an important role in her development. She took private lessons from Meyer in the summertime.
“He coached me in the offseason and helped build my confidence up,” she said.
Heistand plans to attend Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey next year and study nursing. She also plans on bowling in leagues.
“It’s sad; I’m going to miss it,” Heistand said of varsity bowling. “But I’m excited about starting college.”