Finishing fourth in the state as a team was thrilling for Lockport bowlers Ashley Hostert and Nicole Troha last season, but there still were some regrets over what could have been after the Porters entered the final day of the state meet in first place.
Now, the senior pair is hoping to lead the Porters back to state to chase an even higher finish.
“We want to make a state run and do better than we did last year,” Troha said. “We always want to outdo what we did the year before.”
Hostert finished 15th in the state last season, averaging 209 over 12 games at the state meet. Troha averaged 203 over the season and finished 64th in the state.
The duo will have to step up big as the Porters lost three starters from last year’s team to graduation, including Megan Szczepanski, who finished 13th in the state.
“We know we need to step up because it’s our senior season,” Troha said. “It’s no more pressure than we’ve felt already, though. We’ve bowled in big tournaments and tough spots. If we all stay together as a team and stick together like we did last year, I think we’ll do great.”
Lockport coach Art Cwudzinski also will be counting on sophomore Nikki Mendez, who averaged 186 last season, seniors Marissa Soverino and Carly Ciolino and junior Kierstin Vandenburg.
“I think we’ll be a tough team, but how good? I don’t know yet,” Cwudzinski said. “Last year, we exceeded expectations. This year, if we pick up our spares like we have been in practice and like we did last year, we’ll be good.
“Our goals are the same as every year. We want to win (the SouthWest Suburban Blue) and get to the second day of state. And I want everybody to be a better bowler and better person by the end of the season.”
The varsity newcomers are being taught well by Hostert and Troha.
“We do a lot in practice with them,” Hostert said. “We work with them on their form and do everything we can to help.”
The Porters have won three state championships, the most recent in 2008-09, and are contending for titles almost annually.
Living up to that legacy means a lot to the current team.
“Porters are champions,” Hostert said. “It’s a great opportunity and experience for us to bowl for Lockport.”
Troha has coined the term “Finish like a Porter.”
“Last year, I always used to say that before the last frame,” she said. “Encouraging everyone to strike out in the last frame. I just feel like Porters are strong and great players. It’s an honor to wear our jersey and have people know who you are.”
If Hostert and Troha have their way, finishing like a Porter will mean this season finishes with some more hardware.