An interesting call came in to me at The Mining Journal office on Friday.
It was the coach of the new Alma College bowling team, Ken Shunk, and a relative of his who lives in our area - I'm sorry I didn't catch the name - forwarded him the story I did on a high school bowling match at Superior Lanes in Marquette about a week and a half ago.
Shunk's call was actually a voice mail, and we played a little phone tag till I got to talk to him Monday afternoon.
He is interested in doing a little recruiting in the Upper Peninsula later this season and hoped I could get him some info on the U.P. High School Bowling Conference.
That's pretty cool, if I say so in 1960s hippie jargon.
Alma, which has a women's, but not a men's team, is in its first year, but it is a varsity sport at the small college.
For eight years, Shunk has coached the Alma High School boys and girls bowling teams, of which he said his numbers are a little down this year, only something like 21 boys and 18 girls who are out for the sport.
I know a lot of U.P. coaches that'll turn green with envy when they read those numbers.
He said the college was looking to expand its varsity sports program and looked to the Michigan High School Athletic Association for assistance in finding out what sports high schoolers are involved in.
Wrestling for men and bowling for women came up among the favorites to be added.
With bowling's numbers slowly dwindling over the years, it's always great to be able to say that bowling has been the fastest growing high school sport in Michigan over the past decade or so.
Of course, that's because it's started from nothing back in the mid-1990s when the U.P. - yes, us up here - formed the first high school conference in Michigan, quickly catching on downstate and a few years later getting MHSAA sanctioning.
Shunk wanted my help because the website for the Michigan High School Interscholastic Bowling Coaches Association - whew, that's a mouthful - doesn't have much info on the U.P. conference.
So over the next day or two, I'm going to gather a bunch of names of our coaches, phone numbers and email addresses for him. I'm pretty sure they won't mind, but I guess if you do, drop me a line.
Shunk said his Alma College competes in the NCAA's one and only bowling division, meaning the Scots go up against big-time schools like Nebraska, Indiana and Wichita State.
He said Alma was 17th out of 21 teams at a meet last weekend in Iowa, which wasn't bad considering he was only able to recruit on the Alma campus for this year's team, since the whole program was just formed last winter.
He says he has a couple girls lined up from downstate high schools already for next year who have carried averages of something like 204 and 219.
Now for this week's Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week:
Dennis Frisk of Champion had the biggest improvement of the week, shooting 178 pins over his 163 average in the Tuesday Miller Genuine Draft Major League at Country Lanes in Ishpeming. He started fairly routinely with 191 before he tacked on 243 and 233 for a 667 series.
It was enough to beat out Rich Vanderschaegen of Munising, who had one of the early season's mighty efforts in October. This time he shot 157 over with a 661 (219-232-210) in the same Tuesday Night Mixed League at Superior Lanes that he was 277 over two months ago. I'm also happy to report that Rich's average is up 12 pins to 168 from what it was in October.
And next on the list was Robin Isaacson shooting 136 over his 201 average with 739 in the Monday Northern Electric Automotive Industrial loop at Country.
For the ladies, Marchelle Woodard was the BOW winner at plus-129 in the Tuesday Night Mixed at Superior. She far exceeded her 121 average with a 492 set on games of 163, 178 and 151.
Next came Hope Virch, who is the MSHS bowling coach, Marquette County U.S. Bowling Congress Association president and secretary-treasurer of the Wednesday Industrial League where she was 103 pins over average. With a 185 average, she shot 658 with games of 224-267-167.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.