A mechanical breakdown that caused a delay at the Central Suburban League championship tournament may have cost the Evanston girls bowling team an outright league title Saturday.

But the Wildkits still made program history, finishing in a 3-way tie for the title with Vernon Hills and New Trier when the results of dual meet competition and the CSL tourney were combined.

Evanston’s pinfall of 5,017 trailed only Vernon Hills’ total of 5,063 at Saturday’s tournament, but head coach Ray Austin will always wonder if his team’s momentum was derailed late in the competition before the Kits settled for a share of the championship.

“We were rolling so well, everything was clicking for us, and then there was a mechanical breakdown at the lanes,” Austin said. “The New Trier coach must have apologized to me 3 times, but there was nothing that could be done about it. After we waited about 20 minutes, we didn’t get everything together, and Vernon Hills overtook us. It was huge for something like that to happen at a conference championship meet, but our girls did an outstanding job. We’ll take a share of the championship.”

Sophomore Raivyn Summers placed 5th as an individual Saturday with a 6-game total of 1,058. Also making major contributions for the co-champions were Dahna Duffy at 992, Asya Wright at 990 and Genevieve Christon at 983.

Anne Porter, just returning to the lineup after being sidelined by a bad elbow, and Riley Hayes combined for a 6-game total of 998 to push the Kits to a second place finish at the CSL tournament for the second straight year.

Porter’s injury was one of a string of ailments endured by ETHS this season, to the point where Austin never had a full healthy starting lineup for much of the year. Porter, who doubles as a softball pitcher for the ETHS varsity, was the team bowling MVP last year but wasn’t available for the first month of the season. When she returned, she helped the Kits score a big win over rival New Trier the second time the two teams met.

“We’ve had a lot of joint injuries —ankles, knees, elbows, ankles — that are typical in bowling,” Austin pointed out. “Anne couldn’t do anything until January and we only used her in 3 games at the tournament because we’re still being careful. But I thought she did an outstanding job. When she was out the rest of the team just jelled and put it all together.”

Another top performer slowed by injuries early on was Summers, the head coach’s niece. She dealt with a knee issue but should play a major role Saturday when the Wildkits compete at the Resurrection Regional tournament.

The top four teams advance to the sectional round, and the Kits will be seeking to extend their season after also advancing to the sectional a year ago.

“Last year we were fourth in the regional and made it to the sectional, and this year, now that we’re healthy, I think we have a good chance to win the regional,” Austin added. “They looked so good Saturday. They really make my job a lot easier.”

Dennis Mahoney

Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for Evanston Township High School.

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