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The 11th Frame: Guest column: Michigan proprietors’ leader Bo Goergen takes up the fight against sandbagging

JEFF RICHGELS | Posted: Friday, January 12, 2018 11:00 am

Bo Goergen. Photo from Facebook.

Note from Jeff Richgels: As most of my readers know, 11thFrame.com is something I do by myself in my free time outside of my regular job as an online editor at Capital Newspapers. Obviously, that means I can’t do every story I’d like to do and often have to pass up great stories.

The recent sandbagging saga in Michigan is such a story: a good and important one I simply don’t have the time to do properly. So I am doing what I sometimes do in such situations: offering someone an opportunity to write about a story. In this case it’s Bo Goergen, executive director of the Bowling Centers Association of Michigan (and three decades ago my roommate in PBA Regional competition).

I can’t vouch for anything in the story, but I can vouch for Bo and urge anyone who has further questions or wants to get involved to contact him.

The person who started all of this also is a well-known, top-level bowler: Robin Crawford Orlikowski, who is married to former PBA Tour player and Brunswick executive Billy Orlikowski.


As I stated in my Facebook post, I was disgusted to hear what happened at a tournament in Grand Rapids on Dec. 30 from Robin Orlikowski’s Facebook post about three individuals who drove across the state from metro Detroit, entered the event with averages FAR below their ability, and completely blew up this quad event.

The fourth on the team bowled slightly above his average, while the main characters — Karl Malinchak, Keith Wolak and Aaron Alexander — collectively averaged 53 pins per game over their averages! Collectively!!!

Karl entered with a 200 average and shot 1,024 for four games, Keith entered with 189 and shot 982, and Aaron entered with 161 and shot 838.

In total, counting brackets, pots and tournament winnings, they walked out with more than $7,000.

Tournament director Jeff DeKubber was beside himself when I spoke with him. He’s been running New Year's Eve events for eight years — singles and doubles previously; this was the first quad event — and never had anything close to this happen. And with the Facebook responses to what happened where a few individuals were blaming him for everything, I became even more infuriated.

Could Jeff have done more with his event to prevent this? Of course, but he didn’t feel the need from his eight years of experience.

After reaching out to USBC’s rules department, Jeff and I learned a lot about the resources we have available to handle a situation like this. Jeff completed the process to get these guys on the National Rerate list, and so it happened.

The next step was to get these guys out of the league where they were purposely managing these averages. Bowlers in that league reached out with data saying how they won the first third of a 44-team league, and after four weeks of the second third in a 30-point per night format, only had 18 points, with each bowler rolling scores significantly lower than their average from the first third. Karl and Keith both have two weeks in the 400s and the other two weeks low 500s.

This is where a team had filed a complaint PRIOR to the events in Grand Rapids. So a meeting was set up for last night to discuss the removal of these guys from this league. They needed a two-thirds vote, and each person was voted out easily. One bowler off the team, Brent Ryan, was not removed as no one was able to find any data to support his removal.

In addition, tournament directors from across the states of Michigan and Ohio spoke up and reported similar situations over the past three years with these guys. Thus, there was sufficient evidence of them violating rule 17a. 

I want to applaud the bowlers in that league who spoke up and called these guys out. Too often in our sport, no one takes it further than complaining and not showing up in that event again.

As I stated in my Facebook post, how many league bowlers left the game due to guys like these? How many bowlers didn’t return to tournaments guys like these ran over? (Note: Goergen made a second Facebook post on the topic here.)

As an executive director of the Michigan Bowling Center Association, I feel it is my duty to try to protect my proprietors from professional sandbaggers. So I’ve taken a stand and made a resolution to start a movement in the bowling world to get bowlers to speak up against bowlers like these.

#stopthecheating has taken hold and the Imperial Business and Industry league made a statement: “Not in our league.” They had realized their league was being looked at to see if any action would take place.

With three officials from the Metro Detroit Bowling Association there, the meeting met all the standards giving each individual an opportunity to state their case. I was not in the meeting, but Dave Behrnhardt said that Karl was remorseful and would accept whatever decision was made, which was consistent with his statement to Mark Martin, the association manager for MDUSBC, who was not in attendance.

Mark is already in Phoenix attending the BPAA/USBC Summit, which is where I am headed as we speak. Others chose not to have a say. They have the right to an appeal; many are confident they don’t have much of a stand based on the evidence. There are quite a few more bowlers in that league who are well known in the Detroit bowling community to be questionable in their tactics as well. I believe this league sent a message to these guys that they are on notice. 

My goal is for this movement to take a foothold in our centers and continue the process of eliminating the severe sandbagging that goes on all over the country. Bowlers need to speak up, tournament directors need to solidify their rules to protect the others and proprietors need to take action to protect their interest. By communicating better, I feel we can accomplish this goal.

I will be looking to work with USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy and his group to find a way to educate these league officers, tournament directors and center owners of the resources that are available to protect the bowlers who compete the right way. I will be asking the other ED’s of BPA to be active in protecting their proprietors against this issue.

Of course I realize that this issue will never go away completely so long as leagues and tournaments have cash prizes. But the bowling community can eliminate the severe cases easily by speaking out. If we can get all bowlers within 10 pins of their true ability, then everyone has a chance. 

Shout out to Robin for shining a light on these guys and league members Mekye Lum Phelps, Dave Behrnhardt Jr. and Darren Wrightner for filing the complaint and starting the process.

There are more bowlers that have a passion to protect this wonderful game we play, than those that choose to cheat others. So speak up America, call these guys out.