ROCHELLE — The start of a new era for the Rochelle boys bowling team began Monday afternoon, when the Hubs took over T-Byrd Lanes for their first practice of the 2019-20 season under new head coach Jim Lyles.
Lyles takes over for Doug Koch, who resigned earlier this year after leading the boys bowling program for nearly two decades. Numbers were much greater at the start of practice this season, as close to 20 players laced up their shoes and threw balls down the lanes. Rochelle will be gearing up for its first season as an Interstate 8 Conference competitor.
“I’m looking forward to making all of the kids better by the end of the season,” Lyles said. “We aren’t concerned with scores at this point. We want to continue getting better so we’re ready for when regionals come around. Hopefully the kids will have a lot of fun this year.”
The Hubs graduated their core players including Tyler Johnson, Dallas Driver and Rock Valley College player Brady Shank earlier this year. Senior Logan Ortega and junior Keith Holland are the only two varsity bowlers returning from last season, but sophomores Sergio Guevara and Devansh Patel could see their roles elevated after competing on the junior varsity team. Rochelle finished 5-10 overall this past season.
“I’m hoping we can put together a good record this year but I don’t have too many expectations right now,” Lyles said. “We have a lot of new bowlers and we’re going to work with them a lot. We want to get our bowlers into some new equipment as opposed to using house balls.”
Rochelle opens the season with a road match against Sycamore on Nov. 12 before facing Sterling at home on Nov. 14. The Hubs will be aiming to reach the sectional round for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign. It will be a challenge, but with roster numbers well into double-digits, the boys bowling program rebuild is off to a promising start.
“I’d like to see our returning players give the new kids some guidance so they’ll know what to expect when we go to meets,” Lyles said. “I’d like them to step up as captains so the bowlers can go to them when they have questions.”