Pin perfect: Boys bowler makes McHenry history


Photo courtesy of the Northwest Herald

Keefer Roman, Editor - West Campus

East Campus Senior Dalton Atwater made McHenry history this year as he became one of two MCHS athletes to qualify for the Illinois High School Association’s Boys Bowling State Finals.   

Though qualifying for State is considered an impressive feat in itself, what makes this senior’s story even more notable is that Atwater had just begun bowling last year at MCHS.

“Dalton is a self-starter,” said Dale Gross, the Head Bowling Coach at MCHS. “He works very hard at bowling, and he pretty much went from just starting bowling last year to making it to State this season.”

Gross said he believes McHenry has the hardest sectional in Illinois, which means many bowlers have struggled to move past that point in previous years.

“Just making it to State is a huge accomplishment,“ Gross said. “Last season, I had bowlers barely miss State, but they had several more years of experience than Dalton.”

Gross said Atwater has also had to overcome a few challenges after transferring from his former school, Grant Community High School.

“Grant has a different process for practices and he had to adjust to fewer practice days,” said Gross.

Despite the fewer practices, Atwater’s skills continued to build as the season went on, which resulted in his state-qualifying performance at their Sectional on Jan. 19.

At Sectional, Atwater placed 2nd and scored a six-game pinfall of 1366, which is the second highest Sectional score in the history of McHenry High School, behind Issak Carlton’s pinfall of 1389 in the 2015-16 season.* This also made him the second Warrior bowler to ever qualify for State in boys bowling.

Before Atwater found out he qualified for State, he said he felt confident in his performance at Sectional.

“I read the lanes and played the transition better than almost every bowler at the Sectional,” he said. “So when I found out I had made it to State, I was excited, but I also knew I earned my spot and that it was one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve ever made.”

Atwater said he looked forward to the next tournament and the high-level of competition he would be facing,

“The experience going to state was pretty amazing,” Atwater said. “Just knowing I was competing against the top high school bowlers in the state, all in one building, was very exciting to me.”

Since his season has ended, Atwater has applied at McKendree University, which has one of the top men’s bowling teams in the country and was offered a financial aid package called the “McKendree Grant” which would give him approximately $4,000 a year.


*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Atwater’s score was the highest Sectional score in school history. This version has been corrected. Atwater has the second-highest Sectional score behind Issak Carlton’s pinfall of 1389 in the 2015-16 season.