The United Township girls bowling team has been peaking ahead of hosting Saturday’s IHSA sectional at Highland Park Bowl.
UT sophomore Regina Harmening is a striking example of what clicking at the right time can do. After setting a personal high to win the Western Big 6 Conference Meet individual crown, Harmening rolled a new high of 1,280 to win gold at the Sterling Regional last weekend.
But the Panthers aren’t alone locally in posting strong scores.
Not only did Rock Island and UT take first and second at the regional, but fellow Big 6 mates Sterling and Galesburg took the next two team spots. Seven of the 10 individual advancers also came from schools in the Quad-Cities area.
Moline did not advance as a team, but four Moline girls advanced individually.
UT's Panthers were well behind Rocky’s total of 5,760, but a 5,325 was the team’s best mark of the season so far.
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Harmening is a big part of that, along with coach Sharon Krack’s ability to optimize her lineup by shuffling seven bowlers.
“She’s worked hard this season and learned a lot,” Krack said of Harmening, who is also her niece. “This year she’s paid attention and she’s motivated by the team around her.”
Things have fallen in place for the young sophomore, who may be shy when it comes to getting recognition, but her game has spoken for itself as she has found her groove.
“She’s a great girl and likes to do well but doesn’t like the attention,” Krack said. “She likes the game.”
Harmening bowled at the sectional last year, along with senior Ashlyn Burkeybile, who qualified for state individually last season and as a freshman with the whole team.
UT hasn’t hosted the sectional since 2013, which Krack hopes can be an advantage against strong visiting teams such as Minooka and Joliet West, which finished third and fourth in the state last year. Krack says those teams also have not bowled at Highland Park in recent years.
Krack says bowling in various settings and conditions has benefited the team this year. The 27th-year head coach, who recorded her 200th win this past December, has said steady improvement throughout the season has been a recurring theme for her Panthers, who have had a state bowler each of the last five years. UT advanced to state as a team in 2016 and '17.
“Every weekend, just trying to get better as a team,” Krack said. “This is a nice group. They get along well and support each other. They want to do well to help the team.”