Boys bowling rolls through competition


Using one of his four personal bowling balls, sophomore Kai Nitzschke bowls at practice on Nov. 22. In a match against Niles North on Nov. 30, Nitzschke scored 699 in total, leading the team in pins to a 3478-2540. Photo by Brady Rassin

Up by just two pins, the varsity boys bowling team watched as New Trier’s final bowler delivered his last ball, needing a spare to win the match. As the ball rolled down the lane, sophomore Kai Nitzschke hoped for a miss. The gliding ball hit the front pin but missed the one behind it, securing a narrow, one-pin victory for the Spartans, bringing their record to 5-1.
“We were doing really good for the first game [of the match], then during the second we got messed up,” said Nitzschke. “So the comeback in the third game was really nice. I was really glad that my teammates were able to step up.”
The final score of the Nov. 18 match was 3,497-3,496.
According to sophomore Evan D’Souza, during important matches, Nitzschke, junior Jake Battaglia and senior Wesley Fagin have scored well this season.
“Admittedly, we’re not as good as last year, but we’re still in contention to win conference, and we’re always a competitive team.
“We’re looking to just get more consistent on the road and improve our scores,” D’Souza said.
As of Dec. 13, the team is 8-3 and has a conference record of 4-1. Nitzschke is averaging 199, and Fagin is averaging 169.
The boys bowling program is regarded by the bowling community as one of the top programs in Illinois, Todd Rubin, head boys varsity bowling coach, said.
“I think that the next evolution of our program is when we have more players coming in because they want to be high school bowlers, so they’re already starting to work before they get to high school,” Rubin said.
During the 2020-2021 season, Nitzschke bowled a perfect 300 in a match against Evanston, scoring 12 strikes in a row.
After Nitzschke’s eighth strike, the team recognized that it was entirely possible for him to get a perfect score during the match Fagin said.
“When he threw that last ball, everyone huddled around the lane and once he struck, we all came and dogpiled him and gave him a hug,” said Fagin. “As a bowler, bowling 300 is super impressive, but as a freshman, that’s something you probably will never forget in your entire life.”
This year’s conference tournament is scheduled for Jan. 8, and the regional semifinal is scheduled for Jan. 15.
During the 2020-2021 season, the team only bowled at River Rand Bowl because of pandemic restrictions, but this year the program bowls at other teams alleys depending on if the match is home or away.
Since each alley has different oil patterns on the lanes, bowling at various locations this year has been a big challenge, Nitzschke said.
“It’s not just the amount of oil, it’s different oil patterns that make the ball react differently,” said Nitzschke. “So you have to adjust to that and there’s [varying] styles of bowling where you can hook the ball more or less in different bowling conditions. It really makes a difference.”