Mike Kicmal and his scraped-up fingers are headed to the state meet this weekend in Downstate O’Fallon.
Kicmal is the scoring leader for an all-senior Lyons boys bowling team, which will make a repeat appearance in the state tournament beginning Friday at St. Claire Lanes. Kicmal finished 23rd at state last year while Lyons missed advancing to Saturday’s final round after placing 13th as a team.
Both Kicmal and coach Francisco Gamboa are expecting much more this weekend. Lyons won the Hinsdale South Regional Jan. 18, the first time the IHSA included regionals for boys bowling. Lyons captured its first sectional title in school history Saturday at the St. Patrick Sectional at Habetler Bowl in Chicago.
Kicmal placed second (1402) while teammate John Yanulis (1381) took third. The individual sectional champion was Glenbrook North junior Corey Kahen (1475), who rolled a perfect 300 in his fourth game.
Lyons (6344) beat New Trier (5926) for the team title. In last year’s postseason format, Lyons was the second place team to advance out of the Oak Lawn Sectional. This year, the top six teams qualified from each of the four sectionals.
Kicmal is bowling in some pain. He suffered cuts and bruises to his fingers while bowling and new holes drilled in his ball have not helped. Kicmal carries five balls with him during competition.
“The ball feels good, but it happens with the way [my hand] comes out of the ball. It happens a lot,” Kicmal said. “I’ve had bad fingers my whole life. I’m used to it. It makes me throw the ball softer sometimes.”
Kicmal and his twin brother Robert are year-round bowlers. Mike Kicmal owns a team-leading 223 average per game, while Robert Kicmal is second (215).
The La Grange brothers hit career milestones at the St. Patrick Sectional. Mike Kicmal’s six-game total was a school record. Robert Kicmal’s 289 in the third game helped Lyons set a school mark with a 1209 team score. All five bowlers rolled over 200 in that game.
Yanulis also scored a 288 at the sectional.
Lyons’ varsity program is in its fourth year and the Kicmal twins and Yanulis are the only four-year members.
Three other Lions bowled at the St. Patrick Sectional: Kevin Justus (1206), Patrick Richert (938) and Henry Hostetler (136, as a one-game replacement for Richert).
“I believe we are definitely going in with great confidence,” Gamboa said. “We know we’ve been there last year. We know all five of our starters can bowl in that situation. We’re going in knowing what to expect. We are carrying momentum.”
Yanulis, who did not bowl competitively before high school, has become a regular No. 3 for Lyons and is averaging 211.
“[Yanulis] showed potential last year and qualified as an individual,” Gamboa said. “He has shown to be one of our most consistent bowlers and one of the greatest spare shooters we have.”
Justus has bowled well above his 187 season average in the the postseason. He scored 1229 (204 average) in the regional at Willowbrook Lanes and 1206 (201) at St. Patrick.