Jacob Rubin’s rise to prominence in bowling came when he decided to get serious about the sport following his junior year.
Now that he’s more serious about the sport, the Evanston senior is having a lot more fun.
Rubin had the most fun he’s ever had — at least in his new favorite sport — Saturday at the Illinois High School Association Sectional tournament held at Habetler Bowl in Chicago and became the first bowler in ETHS history to qualify for the state finals.
Rubin rolled a season-best (and school record) score of 1352 over 6 games — including a high game of 269 — and captured 3rd place overall, trailing only sectional champion Omar Martinez of Reavis (1396) and Ian Ridgway of Metea Valley (1358) in one of four sectionals held statewide.
Two other Evanston challengers, senior Ben Bartol at 999 and sophomore Joe Leibforth at 966, fell short of qualifying.
“Today Jake was really in the moment, just bowling, having fun and staying loose,” said Wildkit coach Harold Bailey. “He was so relaxed and so focused at the same time, and that’s so hard to do at this point. I’m so proud of him. I never saw him throw so many strikes and feel so comfortable. There was no stopping him today.
“We talked after the first game (a 213) and I told him that his low game could be no lower than a 200. That was the margin for error, or he’d have to play catch-up. And after that all of his scores went up! I just told him if you stay consistent today, you won’t have to look at the leader board. You’ll be just fine.”
Rubin responded with a championship effort, adding games of 220, 216, 232, 269 and 202 to secure a Downstate trip.
“It really feels good!” Rubin exclaimed. “That’s about 20 pins better than my best previous score, although I don’t know it’s the best I’ve ever bowled because I did have a 705 series (for 3 games) earlier this year. I just played my game today. I did what I knew I had to do, and it worked out well.
“I felt pretty confident in practice all week and today I just did my thing and had fun. I just felt good, and I really didn’t feel any pressure. I was just out there having fun.”
Rubin racked up 8 straight strikes to open the fifth game on his way to that 269 that kept his season alive for another week.
“This is a sport that Jacob has grown to love, and he knew he could get there,” said Bailey. “Everybody in the house knew who he was today. It’s another notch in our belt for the program being recognized now, in the state and in the area.
“Joe and Ben gave it their all for us today, too. It was great for Ben to get here as a senior (after just missing the past two years) and in two more years Joe will be one of our leaders. This is a big jolt for the program, getting someone to State. This group of seniors has really propelled us to some big things.”
Top four teams advancing out of the Taft Sectional included Lake Park (6363), Lyons Township (6216), Reavis (6094) and Glenbrook North (6033). The state finals are scheduled for Friday and Saturday at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon.
Dennis Mahoney is sports information director for ETHS.