Just when I thought the rest of us had a chance, Scott Salminen proved last week why he's among the area's true elite.
Salminen finished the Tuesday Miller Genuine Draft Major League session at Country Lanes in Ishpeming with a near-perfect 298 game and U.S. Bowling Congress honor score series of 803, the seventh "8" of his career.
But it was when he told me about throwing 20 strikes in a row during the final two games that made me realize how far he is above the rest of us.
I asked if he had to move his strike line at all during the amazing streak.
"I moved about a half-board or a board once or twice," he told me. "A couple times the ball hit high flush or dead flush, so I knew it was time."
His normal target is to hit "light flush" in the 1-3 strike pocket, which means instead of hitting exactly halfway between the head pin and 3-pin - or "dead flush" - he wanted a little extra on the 3-pin to let the head pin bounce to the left and mix all the pins on that side up.
It's a luxury he can afford with all the high speed and revolutions he gets on a bowling ball, in this case a 15-pound Storm Invasion reactive resin.
When his Invasion instead drifted an inch or two left of light flush back to dead flush, or possibly even a little more on the head pin - "high flush" - it was time to make a change.
It's not good enough for the 35-year-old Negaunee resident to get a "perfect" strike, not when he could get the correct strike. And that's the difference between all of us who are just happy to hit on the right side of the head pin and those who have to use two or three hands to count the number of 300 games or 800 series they have.
Salminen shot 226, 279 and 298, leaving a 10-pin and sparing in the third frame of Game 2, then striking out until the final ball of Game 3, when he laughed about leaving the wide-open 4-10 split.
"I might've got a little slow on that ball," he said, adding, "but I'll take an 800 over a 300 any day."
He knows it's a lot easier to be consistent over 10 frames in a 300 than in 30 frames for 800. With that many strikes, you pay a severe penalty for just one error. For example, the middle-game 279 included 11 strikes and one spare, a deduction of 21 pins from 300. Do that five times and you've lost 105 pins - and any chance at 800.
Just a night later at Country, Diana Windahl, 40, of Ishpeming rolled her 12th career 700 series with 701 in the Trio League on games of 253, 212 and 236.
It was a perfect night not to score, considering she was bowling a double shift and opened with a series in the 400s - "not even close to 500" - in the Superior Iron Range Credit Union League.
"I was throwing way too hard," she said, adding that first husband and teammate Steve Windahl, then later an opponent, Bob "Buddha" Maki, urged her to slow down so she could carry all 10 pins on her pocket hits with her 15-pound Storm 2Furious reactive resin ball.
"Buddha just kept saying, 'You don't have to throw so darn hard!'" Windahl said. "Finally I just slowed down and it all clicked."
The "7" never entered her mind after the 212.
"I wasn't even paying any attention to that," she said. "I didn't think 700 was a possibility because of the middle game."
Windahl added it was nice to bowl a big score, considering she's carrying a personal low average of 177 "just from a lack of practice."
The low average-high score combo made her last week's Mining Journal Bowler of the Week at 170 pins over average. The next two women were in the Thursday Coors Light Ladies loop at Country, Laura Korte at 128 over her 127 average with 509 and Heidi Jaykka at 116 over her 90 average with 386.
Dennis Frisk led the men at plus-167 in the Tuesday MGD Major. With a 176 average, he shot 695 with 213, 268 and 214.
Next was Dan Willey, yes the Ishpeming chief of police, at 133 over with 679. He was using last year's book average of 182 since he only had six games in this season. And third was Dave Kangas of the Wednesday SIRCU loop at 122 over his 184 average with 674.
For the previous week, Bob Masuga of the Superior Lanes Tuesday Night Mixed League took men's honors, 154 pins over his 177 average with 685 including games of 241 and 231.
Jim Kipling of the Monday Northern Electric Automotive Industrial loop at Country shot 149 over his 199 average with 746, including 269, followed by John Kovarik of the Friday Nite Mixed at Country, 124 over his 174 average with 646 and a 218.
For the ladies, Hope Virch was the BOW winner after exceeding her 191 average by 116 pins with 689 on 200, 236 and 253. Next came Jessica Ayotte in the Thursday Coors Light at Country at 88 over her 174 mean with 610 and 220.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.