By Michael Wojtychiw
Sometimes all it takes is a little bit of good fortune to turn a season around.
For Curie girls bowler Nina Kick, the season hadn’t gone as she had planned. Some inconsistent scores had plagued her along the way, but looks to have turned her luck around after her performance at the Chicago Public League city championships Monday at Waveland Bowl.
Kick, a junior on this year’s squad, took home the individual title with a three-game series of 655, 88 pins more than runner-up Bree Stewart of Morgan Park and 89 pins more than Jones senior Katie Garcia.
“This is crazy,” she said. “This was my goal for next year, my senior year, but I’m happy with the timing, especially since it hasn’t been my desired season. I feel like it was really good to get the win.
“This is a big confidence boost, especially since my season has been on-and-off all year. It’s the exact boost I needed going into the playoffs and making a run back to state.”
A big part in Kick’s success Monday was the amazing second game she bowled. Kick put up nine strikes in a row en route to a 277 game, one where she had a good portion of the bowling alley coming over to watch.
The key, however, was trying not to let the pressure get to her.
“I felt it a little bit knowing that it’s the city championship, the energy is up, all these top teams and players there,” she said. “It was exciting. I felt it building towards the end and as the other teams started finishing, I felt like all of them were watching me but I’m happy with it.
“It’s great to know that people are watching. I never had so many people com up and tell me ‘you bowled great’ or how good I’ve bowled. I’m happy people noticed it and were kind enough to say congratulations.”
CPL girls bowling has been dominated by the South Side schools. Since 2000, only four champions have been from the North Side and only one, Lane in 2021, since 2009.
Luckily for the Champions, they had a number of bowlers that have been multiple-year bowlers, including a couple who were on that city title team in 2021.
“The message was just to have fun,” Lane coach Dave Ruge said. “If you’re not having fun, you’re thinking of other things, so you just have to enjoy the ride.”
That experience helped Lane on Monday as it held off Morgan Park 2,271 to 2,146. Lindblom, last year’s city champion, came in third with 2,083 pins.
“This is honestly amazing that I get to end the season with a win,” Lane’s Simone Ashford said. “We had a close season last year and with the strength of the newcomers, as well as the returners, we just worked on practicing, getting our spares, working on our team bonding and that’s how we knew we could crush this.”
“My sophomore year, I came in and had never bowled before and was part of a team where I looked up to the older players a lot because I had very little experience,” said Lane’s Linnea Holcomb, who finished fourth individually. “To be that person for the underclassmen this year was a cool way to finish out my career.”
Lane’s boys team won the city championship a couple of weeks ago, also defeating Morgan Park, so the girls knew they could make it a truly fun season for all of lane bowling if they got the win.
“I think we were really just focused on playing our game,” Holcomb said. “We knew coming in that we had a really good shot of winning and just being able to succeed and do what we knew we could was amazing. The fact that both if us won, that’s just a testament of the work ethic of both the boys and girls teams. We all wanted it really badly and we got it.
“I’m proud of what they did and what we did.”
The teams all now get ready for the state playoffs starting this weekend. CPL teams will be scattered throughout the Richards, Resurrection, Leyden and Reavis regionals.
“We just have to practice,” the Lane coach said. “We go back to working on some things because we know there are some things we left out there and know we have a good shot at regionals.
“We just have to build off of today.”