DANVILLE — Brent Rickgauer was thinking about a high school bowling team back when he was just a member in the youth leagues.
On Wednesday afternoon, the junior saw his dreams realized when the Danville Vikings made the IHSA debut in bowling with a contest against the Bradley-Bourbonnais Boilermakers.
“I’ve seen this coming since I was 5 years old,’’ he said. “During my freshman year, I asked about adding the sport. And then last year, I really pushed for a team as I went out and collected signatures.’’
Rickgauer, who is also a member of the Danville football and boys track and field teams, established very strong school records for high game (242) and high series (668) but it wasn’t quite enough to lead the Vikings to a victory.
The Boilermakers had all five of its bowlers finish with 500 or better scores in a three-game series as they defeated the Vikings 3,345-2.471 at Lincoln Lanes in Danville.
“This is a good start regardless of the scores,’’ Rickgauer said. “We just wanted to get the experience and give our program a starting point.
“We will definitely get better this season and I think you will see a big improvement from us this year.’’
And what about his performance?
“That was pretty good,’’ said Rickgauer. “I started off a little slowly in the first game (193). I was pretty nervous. But those last two games, I caught fire.’’
Rickgauer had a 233 in the second game and he capped the day with 242 in the third game, with eight strikes in 10 frames.
“Brent and his young brother, Jayden, have qualified for state tournaments at the youth level,’’ said Danville assistant coach John L. Pendleton. “They know how to bowl under pressure.’’
That wasn’t the case for the other bowlers on the Viking roster.
“We have some kids that just started and this was everyone’s first-time bowling as a high school team,’’ said Pendleton.
Not only was this the school’s first-ever competition, but a couple of the Danville bowlers were competing in their first-ever varsity event in any sport.
“That’s the great thing about bowling, it gives other kids an opportunity to participate in athletics,’’ Brent Rickgauer said. “Nerve were a big thing for everyone.
“We will get used to this and we will get better.’’
Rounding out the scoring for Danville was Jayden Rickgauer (531), Chris Demoss (488), Gavin Haynes (432) and Layne Eversole 352.
The top scorer for Bradley-Bourbonnais was Adam Weedon with a 615, which included a 244 third game — the highest score for any bowler on Wednesday.
Pendleton pointed out that this team is filled with underclassmen and the future looks good for Danville bowling.
“Our midget league program is going to be even more successful now that we have a bowling team at the high school level,’’ he said.
While this was the opening match for the Danville boys, the girls bowling season for the Lady Vikings will begin on Thursday, Dec. 5 when Danville will host Decatur MacArthur. That match, also to be held at Lincoln Lanes, will start 4 p.m.
“We just started practice for the girls on Monday,’’ said Pendleton. “Right now, we have three girls on the team and one of them has previous bowling experience. We are working on getting more girls out this season.’’