ISHPEMING - Every day on the bowling lanes is like a birthday to Brooke Bartol.
Strangely enough, that's because of her latest Christmas present.
You see, the Westwood High School junior received a Tropical Breeze bowling ball made by Storm under the holiday tree. And Storm has become known in the bowling world for adding a scent to its high-end balls that ranges from cherry to blueberry to even warm maple syrup.
Ishpeming's Tyler Windahl throws a ball during practice for a high school bowling meet held at Country Lanes in Ishpeming on Saturday morning. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
And with this particular pink and purple ball, the scent of a birthday cake.
"Yes, I picked it because I liked the aroma," Bartol said while bowling in a high school match for the Patriots against an Iron Mountain team on Saturday afternoon at Country Lanes in Ishpeming.
Her coach, Barrie Rae, and one of her best friends on the team, fellow junior Amanda Prophet, both agreed it's a good scent since Bartol really enjoys the sport.
"She really likes to talk bowling," Rae said while watching his girls team.
"But I had to talk her into trying out," Prophet added. "I was on the team as a freshman and I convinced her to try it last year."
Bartol said she's glad she did.
"Yeah, I really like it," she said.
Apparently she was a natural, since she says she had never bowled before the tryouts and took to the lanes and has become a solid member of the team.
"We like to be competitive, but we also support each other," Prophet said.
Westwood swept its boys and girls matches Saturday as the boys picked up their first win ever in their inaugural season.
The boys defeated Marquette B, 25 1/2-14 1/2, as Mackenzie Ross led the way with 509. Teammate Matt Hegman added 473, Tyler Harvala added 433, Lucas Ferguson 427 and Austen Larson 356.
For the girls, Rae substituted freely in a 36 1/2-3 1/2 win over Iron Mountain C. Rebecca Poirier had 381 and Bartol 340 for three games, while Kathryn Kulju shot 284, Norveig Olson 239, Haylee Ronaglione 221 and Prophet 199 for two games. Kendra Musselman had 106 for her single game.
Meanwhile, some members of the L'Anse boys and girls teams had to thing hard to come up with a good Christmas bowling present.
"I could use a new pair of bowling shoes," junior Freddy Dakota said.
"I'd like to bowl a 200 game; my best game so far is 165," said senior Taylor Tervo, who did manage a 150 game Saturday.
"We're the spare queens," said sophomore teammate Jessi Bianco, getting nods from the other girls. "But the toughest pin is the 10-pin."
One thing that coach Cheryl Dingeldey would like is one more bowler, since each of the Purple Hornets teams was one bowler short of a full team with four bowlers on Saturday.
"We've had an awful time with the flu in L'Anse in the last week, so I'm glad we were able to put this many bowlers together," she said.
Each of the Purple Hornets boys exceeded his average Saturday, with Dakota hitting 492, Casey Carter 384, Chase Warner 364 and Tucker Hemmila 361.
For the girls, Samantha Maki hit 392, Tervo 339, Bianco 337 and Heather Mensch 305.
Meanwhile, the Ishpeming boys team was vying to remain the only undefeated team in the Upper Peninsula Bowling Conferrence on Saturday, facing the only other boys team without a loss, Menominee.
The boys had an easy time accomplishing their goal in a 36-4 victory, while the Hematite girls dropped Marquette, 32-8.
The Ishpeming boys have lofty goals when it comes to dreaming of Christmas presents.
"I'm not getting a new ball, but if I had one Christmas wish, a 300 would be nice," said junior Austin Wilkins, talking about a perfect 12-strike game.
Freshman teammate Andrew Maki couldn't think of anything specific, but had no trouble picking from a list of possibilities.
"Yeah, picking up a 7-10 split would be awesome. So would a 300," he said, though he added he once threw one in practice. "It would be a lot tougher to get one in a match, though."
The team's anchorman, junior Tyler Windahl, said his parents just bought him a new ball on Friday, a 15 1/2-pound Storm Lucid, which is listed by the company to have a vanilla citrus aroma.
"I didn't know what ball I was getting, just that I wanted one that hooked a lot," he said.
Part of that can be attributed to the expertise of his parents, Ishpeming bowling coaches Steve and Diana Windahl, owners of what are still believed to be the highest three-game series in U.P. history for their gender - 857 by dad, 779 by mom.
One bowler had a rather unique Christmas wish.
"I think a 299 would be a good thing," junior Kirk Guckenberg said about a game that would be one thin pin short of the ultimate. "That shows a lot of character."
He added that another wish would be for a day with 36 hours in it, since he's juggling being a member of the Hematites' bowling and wrestling teams this winter.
Windahl led his team with 573, while Matt Kilberg added 537, Guckenberg 532 and Maki 530. Wilkins shot 322 for two games and Lucas Solka 206 for one.
An Ishpeming girls team member hopes for something more down to earth for her Christmas present.
"Show me how to pick up all my 10-pins consistently," said sophomore Kassy Harsila. "Another good present would be beating Marquette."
Kaytlynne Carlson paced the Hematite girls with 584, including a 244 final game, while Kaylee O'Connor added 501. Two-game totals included Ann Alanen with 333, Harsila 294, Ashley Anderson 262 and Caitlin Korvela 223. In addition, Birte Grinstad Leine had 89 for one game.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org