When Marc McDowell threw his first practice ball on Sunday, I thought our chances of successfully defending our State Tournament team and team all-events titles were fairly slim.
Mac, who had left shoulder surgery in December, had a brutal knot in his back shoulder muscle under the blade.
He barely got the ball down the lane and at that point I figured he was good for maybe 570 at best. It was not looking good for our Turbo 2-N-1 Grips team.
Because USBC Hall of Famer Todd Savoy’s team had taken the team lead with about 3,480 on the first shift Sunday at Mountain Lanes in Wausau, that would mean the rest of us would need to average about 725 per man.
That was doable, but on Mountain Lanes' aging wood lanes with the USBC Blue 1 lane pattern it was definitely a challenge. Scores had not been that high for team, with second going into the weekend barely above 3,300. State Tournament standings can be accessed here.
But Mac took a muscle relaxant and his wife Kerri used a bowling pin — yes, a pin — to work on his knot between shots and he simply gutted it out.
He shot 215, 243 and 193 for 651 with a couple of missed single pins and a bizarre light mixing pocket 4-10 split that prevented what could have been an amazing 700.
While the 651 was low for our team, it may have been the most important score as it enabled the rest of us to relax and do good work.
The result was 3,547 on games of 1,137, 1,178 and 1,232 for the team lead, and 10,402 team all-events for that lead.
Going into the weekend, Towne & Country Lanes #1 of Burlington led with 3,432 and 9,956.
Two months remain in the tournament, but I think both of those scores have a chance to win.
Rob Schuh, who has bowled for us in State in recent years after Mike Shady and family moved to Pennsylvania, was his usual stellar self in team, blasting 793 (279-246-267) with an ancient Brunswick GOLD RHINO PRO.
Gail Myers Jr. struggled a bit the first two games with 211 and 212, but fired a perfect game the last game for 723. Gail has been struggling with his rhythm and speed control for quite a while but looked like his old self in that last game.
Steve Richter slammed 691 (226-241-224) and I managed a disappointing 689 (206-235-248).
It was disappointing only because I needed 708 to tie Todd Holznagel for the all-events lead – three strikes in the 10th frame the last game would have given me 2,265 but I left a blower 7-pin the first ball in the 10th. The killer for me, though, was the first game, which featured four 10-pins and a pocket 7-10.
However it ends, this will be a year of “might have been” for me, as I left Wausau in first in team and team all-events, and second in all-events, singles and doubles, and I stood on the approach in the final frame with the chance to take the lead in both singles and all-events. I made very good shots both times but didn’t have the horseshoe that seemed to be in my pocket most of the weekend.
So it was a great and fun weekend that the greedy bowler in me knows could have been phenomenal.
In team on Sunday, our teams started playing up about 10 board or a little to the right with relatively tame balls so as not to blow up the pattern on Mountain’s aging wood lanes. By the end we were in close to crossing about 20 at the arrows and they were wet/dry, but not excessively so.
I started with a MODERN MARVEL and went to a FRANTIC before going the last two games with the same VIRTUAL ENERGY I used in minors. The shiny VE gave me a clean skid to the breakpoint and a hard and continuous motion off the breakpoint, while anything with any surface just didn't go through the pins with any continuous motion. I just couldn't go to the VE until the lanes transitioned a little — on the fresh it went long and sideways.
Our all-events were me at 2,245 (689 team-741 doubles-815 singles), Schuh at 2,199 (793-705-701), Richter at 2,099 (691-702-706), Myers at 2,017 (723-663-631), and McDowell at 1,842 (651-547-644).
Turbo 2-N-1 Grips No. 2 also bowled well with 3,276 (1,114-1,030-1,132). Dan Goepfert led with 702 (230-237-235), Paul Gloede added 697 (234-237-226), Tom Howery 638 (235-211-192), Mike Walters 635 (244-179-212), and Ben Cleveland 604 (171-166-267).
Turbo No. 2 all-events were Goepfert 2,046 (702-690-654), Howery 2,037 (638-681-718), Walters 2,015 (635-715-665), Cleveland 1,869 (604-621-644), and Gloede 1,852 (697-489-666).