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Rock Island bowler Heather Motley is this week's Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline Metro Pacesetter. The junior is off to a strong start to the season. She finished as runner-up at the Rock Island Invite and placed fourth at the Palatine Invite on Saturday. Both meets featured some of the top teams in the state.

ROCK ISLAND — After catching the final out in Rock Island’s first-ever state softball title in June during her first stretch playing third base, Rock Island’s Heather Motley began the transition into her junior year bowling season as a second-year team captain.

And after shifting from the softball diamond to the bowling lanes, Motley has continued to show that she and her team can compete with the best in Illinois in each sport.

Motley, this week’s Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline.com Metro Pacesetter, began the season at the Nov. 24 Rock Island Invite by bowling her six-game series best in high school competition with a 1,290 that earned her individual runner-up honors. Rock Island finished behind only defending state champion Harlem and Lockport, which was eighth at state last season.

She and Rocky continued the success this past weekend at the Palatine Invite, where Rocky was third as a team and Motley placed fourth with a 1,201. Only Lockport and state-bronze winning Schaumburg were ahead of the Rocks at the 18-team invite.

“The only teams that have beaten us are all state final teams,” Rocky bowling coach Jim Braet said of the competition to start the year. “She’s bowling right there with all the big shooters.”

Motley, averaging 203 to start the season, was 34 and 81 pins away from placing first in the two respective invites. She also finished strong to help lead the Rocks to a narrow dual win over Geneseo on Monday.

“I definitely like the way I’ve started and how the team has started,” Motley said. “It definitely gives us a lot more confidence.”

Motley’s main goal this season is to qualify for state for the first time, but she said she would rather go as a team. Between bowling practice and working at Highland Park Bowl, there aren’t many hours outside of school in which she isn’t involved with the game.

After the graduation of her sister and fellow standout Rocky bowler Lynzee Quade, Motley has taken on the responsibility of being the team’s top competitor and anchor bowler in the lineup. The friendly competition between the two in the past also amplified her competitiveness.

“She was the leader for the last three years,” Motley said of her older sister, “and now that she’s gone, someone should step up.”

Motley said the chance to contribute to Rocky’s Class 4A state softball title is one that will continue to help her, having played on such a big stage.

“Having that experience will help out with bowling,” Motley said, “because I just want to get to state with my team for bowling as well to bring another state title to Rocky.”

Her competitive fire, training, and experience overcoming her nerves in state softball all should contribute on the lanes this year. Having the hard work in softball pay off has also fed into practicing in bowling. She said her consistency is one of her biggest strengths; coach Braet also pointed to her competitiveness.

“I’m very competitive,” Motley said. “If something doesn’t go my way and I struggle, I get mad at myself, because I feel like I should do better for the team.”

Her results to start the year have spoken for themselves against high-level opponents.

“I want to show them that they do have competition,” Motley said of the state’s top bowling teams. “And them throwing high scores brings out the competitiveness in me to want to do better.”