Rock Island senior bowler Heather Motley knocked down 2,477 pins across 12 games this weekend at the state meet in Rockford, and three pins made the difference in earning a medal.
Making things more wild, Motley did not even know she medaled until she heard her name called for awards Saturday afternoon at The Cherry Bowl. After rolling a 179 her final game, she was left feeling frustrated and emotional as her Rocky bowling career was coming to an end, short of medaling.
But fortunately for Motley, things fell her way and she placed 12th by just three pins, becoming the first Rocky bowler to medal at state since Amber Meyers placed 11th in 2010.
The Rocks finished eighth as a team at state, their best team finish since placing seventh in 2004. Lockport was first, followed by Harlem and Minooka. O’Fallon senior Mary Orf was individual champion with a 2,743 12-game total.
Motley said she and the team with four seniors all began to cry after their emotional finish. Winning a state medal means “everything” she said.
“It was crazy to find out I made top 12 after only bowling a 179,” texted Motley, who lost her voice from cheering all weekend. “To find out that I only got it by three pins made me cherish the entire day because I could’ve missed any four pins throughout the day.”
Rock Island’s coach of 40 years Jim Braet lauded Motley’s accomplishment. She bowled above her average this weekend, averaging a 206.4 game. Motley was just 266 pins back from first.
“Scoring has gotten out of sight,” Braet said. “If you place at the state meet, it’s quite an accomplishment to do that.”
Motley’s classmate and fellow St. Ambrose bowling commit Kelsey Freeman was just 41 pins behind her in 18th place.
“This team is amazing and I’m going to miss them a lot,” Motley said. “I’ll remember our bus rides and all of our practices because we bonded together so well.”
Braet said it remained a challenge putting enough strong scores together to jump higher into the standings, but it didn’t diminish one of the team’s best seasons in some time.
“It was an excellent year,” Braet said. “Winning conference, regional, and sectional titles and getting to the state final, it’s an outstanding accomplishment for us.”
Both United Township girls placed in the top 40 as senior Ashlyn Burkeybile finished 29th (2,391) and sophomore Regina Harmening was 40th (3,447). Burkeybile had UT’s best individual finish since her older sister, Leah Samuelson-Burkeybile, placed 11th in 2017.
Burkeybile finished her prep career by bowling with the top block of bowlers, which consisted of the top 4 teams and top 10 individuals.
UT coach Sharon Krack was proud of how her girls finished a solid season.
“To bowl on the last day of the season is a pretty big accomplishment,” Krack said.
Burkeybile posted her best state finish in three tries and will continue bowling at Upper Iowa.
“One of the things I told her,” Krack said of Burkeybile, “was that she’s represented our school so well and done a lot for us.”
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