Why she was selected:
Rachel Clifton was the individual champion for team champion Oswego at the West Aurora Invitational.
Clifton, a senior who will bowl collegiately at Judson University, had a six-game series of 1,262 and twice bowled high games of 225 for the tournament. Clifton knocked down 52,365 pins over her first three years on the Oswego bowling team with a 183 average – and this year her average is up. She's been part of conference champion and state-qualifying teams for the Panthers.
Clifton talked with Ledger sports editor Joshua Welge about the most recent tournament and all things bowling. Here is an edited version of the transcript:
Welge: What was the key to winning the West Aurora tournament?
Clifton: Making spares and keeping my head up, cheering everybody on and not getting upset about bad shots. I was really proud of the tournament. It was my first time shooting [a six-game series of] 1,200 all season. Going into it, I knew how the lanes were going to play. The first two games I bowled in the high 200s. I was a little under in the third game but then I had two more games in the 200s.
Welge: How is your season going?
Clifton: I was pretty disappointed at the beginning. My goal was to average 200 for the year and I was averaging 195. I wasn't too far off. This last weekend helped bring me up to where I want to be.
Welge: When did you start bowling? Was it a family thing?
Clifton: I started bowling when I was 5. My brother and all my family bowled. The goal was to beat my brother. Him and I bowled in a Saturday league. When I was 8, I played in my first tournament. When I was 11, I realized I wanted to take it more seriously. I started practicing every day and getting coaching.
Welge: How often do you bowl during the offseason?
Clifton: I usually practice at Parkside Lanes. I practice Monday to Friday, six games a day. I'm in a league on Saturday for three games and am in 12-game tournaments on Sunday.
Welge: When do you not bowl?
Clifton: Sunday nights, Monday morning. Then I'm back at it.
Welge: How did you end up committing to Judson?
Clifton: I knew I wanted to bowl in college. Over spring break I visited 11 different colleges. I bowled for the coaches. I was at the Junior Gold Championships in Ohio and Judson was there. In September, I went up to Elgin and bowled for them. They offered a good deal and I signed there.
Welge: Do you know what you're going to major in?
Clifton: I'm going to study forensic psychology.