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Druley: Kaneland's Komel can't pass up CMU

Kaneland senior right tackle Joe Komel lamented a lack of motivation early in his football career.

The events leading up to Saturday's verbal commitment to Central Michigan illustrate his newfound assertiveness.

Acting upon last week's visit to Kaneland that snapped a lengthy lull in communication, the Chippewas called Komel at 9 a.m. Saturday. He accepted their scholarship offer some four hours later.

"I got the call, they offered a scholarship and not long after that, I knew it was something I couldn't pass up," Komel said.

The past few days have prompted plenty of reflection from Komel, a 6-foot-3, 290-pounder who projects as a guard with the Chippewas.

Of course, he recalls the good times with the Knights, who lost just one regular season game during his two varsity seasons. But Komel quickly asserts none of it would have been possible without teammates such as Alex Snyder – a four-year starter on the offensive line – and his coaches.

Assistants Mike Thorgesen and Pat Ryan were especially helpful in shaping Komel's emergence on the Knights' front five.

"Oh, boy. Freshman and sophomore year, I was big but I didn't have much fire under my butt, I guess you could say," Komel said. "I was scared for a starting spot on varsity because I always started because I was big, but I wasn't sure if that would happen. … I worked my tail off going into junior year, and the rest is history."

Chippewas coaches consulted defensive end Blake Serpa, a former Kaneland standout, about Komel. Much of what Serpa's insight came from conversations with Komel's older brother, Sam, a close friend who now plays baseball at NCAA Division II Flagler College in St. Augustine, Fla.

"He's got a good family and I got closer with his family my senior year because of Sam, so it's pretty exciting to know his family is going to be there," Serpa said.

Komel said he was "very close" to committing to South Dakota before Central Michigan showed interest. Komel had visited the Mount Pleasant, Mich., campus for a one-day camp last summer but there was "not much contact" after that.

Northern Illinois offered Komel a walk-on spot, which he also was considering.

North girls on early roll: St. Charles North girls bowlers entered Saturday's Strikefest Invitational at Joliet's Town & Country Lanes with several unknown variables.

Chief among them: what to expect in a 44-team event.

The North Stars left for home with a much better idea of how they can expect to fare for the rest of the season.

"Going in there not knowing anything and coming out of there with 11th place is really good," North senior Bobbi Jo Buhlman said.

Much like their counterparts on the boys side, North touts plenty of depth this season, led by Buhlman and fellow seniors Ashley England and Ashley Montgomery.

The Strikefest effort capped a solid week for the program that began with a fourth-place finish at the Rockford Jefferson Tournament on Dec. 7, North's best showing at the event. On Thursday, Buhlman rolled a career-best 298 in the first game of a dual against East Aurora at Aurora's Parkside Lanes.

Naturally, quite a crowd piled up as word of Buhlman's gem spread. She hit strikes on her first 11 rolls before finishing with an 8-count.

"I wasn't really paying attention to everyone else in the bowling alley," Buhlman said. "I only found out afterward that there were so many people watching."

'Vogy' a year older: Cubs prospect Dan Vogelbach, who manned first base for the Cougars for much of the 2013 season, turns 21 today.

Vogelbach batted .284 with 17 home runs and 71 RBIs in 114 games for the Cougars before an August promotion to Advanced-A Daytona, where he helped the Cubs win the Florida State League title.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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