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Late-season fireworks hit Superior Lanes

April 10, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

Most of us are set to pack it in this bowling season, getting ready for the true spring season by shining up our golf clubs or figuring out where we tucked our shorts and tank tops in the bottom of the cedar chest.

A few diehards like me are still slogging along on the lanes, trying to keep our form as we get ready for some end-of-the-season bowling tournaments going on in places like Baraga, Green Bay and Sault Ste. Marie.

But not Mike Musolf.

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No-o-o-o-o, this veteran of the lanes just went out and bowled a huge score on March 30 during the Friday 800 Mixed League at Superior Lanes.

My usual contact in the league, lanes expert Justin Stephens, even took the night off, so I missed hearing about Musolf's feat in time for last week's bowling column.

It worked out perfectly, though, when I showed up for a rare Tuesday night appearance at Country Lanes in Ishpeming last week and Stephens asked me if I had heard what this guy sitting to his right did?

No, I replied. Oh, just a 300 game and an 813 series.

Whoa, I was thinking. This was a guy who had major heart surgery about a year and a half ago - and he's only a year older than me at 51 right now.

But the smooth-swinging Musolf said everything just fell into place - an understatement after opening the night with two spares and then throwing 29 of his next 33 shots for strikes. It included15 in a row over the first two games and a dozen straight to end his night.

Using his 16-pound Roto Grip Nomad reactive resin ball, "Moose" rolled games of 279, 234 and 300 to earn his third sanctioned perfect game and third 800 series.

"But I never had both the same night before," he said.

A little later, though, when I asked one of my standard questions about how he felt in practice, Musolf had this surprising reply:

"I wanted to just walk out of the place at the end of practice," he said. "I couldn't carry (any strikes) in practice at all.

"And then neither of the first two shots fell even though they were pretty good balls."

He said that might've relaxed him, since he was resigned to another night of spare-making, and he just rolled the ball down the lane and let it do the work.

Trust me, when most elite bowlers get together to talk about how to carry strikes, we all agree that it seems like the pins always know when you're tense and trying too hard.

All 10 pins fall a whole lot better when we just roll the ball off our hands and let it work its magic with the pins.

"I always tell everyone that the toughest ball to throw in a 300 is the first ball in the 10th (frame)," Moose said. "But this time, the last one I was the most nervous about."

The first ball in the 10th was the one that clinched 800, the only thing he said he was focusing on the whole third game.

"I was just relieved (about 800) when I threw the second one, but then I started thinking about 300 for the first time," Musolf said. "The first two balls in the 10th were pretty good, but that last one was a little tight."

Tight as in a little left of the target on the lane, causing two potential problems - first, if the oil doesn't hold the ball back, it'll hook smack into the middle of the head pin, pretty much killing any chance of a strike.

And if the ball does get held back from hooking too much, it might just be hydroplaning through so much oil that the ball hits with no authority and likely one corner pin or the other will stand.

Neither happened, though, giving Moose just the third 300 and first 800 in league play this season at the Marquette center.

Now here's my non-surprise of the week - Musolf also earned the Mining Journal Bowler of the Week crown for the set, which was 189 pins over his 208 average.

For the ladies, Tuesday T&T Ladies League secretary-treasurer Kris LaForge did nearly as well, shooting 170 pins over her 153 average with her first-ever 600 series in 21 years of bowling, a 629 on games of 164, 233 and 232.

As she told me in her e-mail about it: "Let me tell ya ... floating on cloud 9 right now!!!"

Both pins-over efforts were head and shoulders above the rest of the field.

Just a note: I won't have a bowling column next week as I'll just be getting back from the U.S. Bowling Congress nationals. In fact, as you read this, I might be on the lanes in Baton Rouge, La., trying to hit my lowest league average on the tough conditions.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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