If you were trying to get hold of Steve Swentik of Marquette and Don Beck of Negaunee on a February weekend, you were probably out of luck.
The pair took advantage of a new division in the Marquette County U.S. Bowling Congress Association tournament and each won multiple titles because of it.
During three of the month's four weekends, the two bowled in just about every category of the all-ages Open division and the newly formed 55-years-and-over Senior division. Both won a title in each division.
Association board members, of which I'm one, have offered the all-comers Open division and several versions of a restricted category as a way to draw out more than just the highest-average male bowlers from Marquette County to this annual event.
We, and I'll readily admit to taking credit where credit's NOT due, have finally hit paydirt with the Senior division. We tried a women's division last year and previous to that, a lower-average division, but without much success in drawing many entries.
Despite a 100-percent handicap rule that should give no advantage to the cream-of-the-crop bowlers, it's understandable how someone with an average average would feel intimidated and just plain ol' not feel they have a chance.
In fact, the big-average guys - with a few top women bowlers, too - have dominated the upper echelon of this tournament's standings for years.
Most all 210- and 220-average bowlers get that way and stay that way not by shooting 640 or 650 week in and week out, but by bombing multiple high 700 series or even an 800 or two when all the stars align. It makes up for that 530 or 540 clunker they throw once in awhile.
And the motivation for a big score is there when good money is on the line.
But the new Seniors division actually had just a few more games bowled than the Open division this year, and quite a number of seniors crossed over and tried their hand with their youngsters, too.
That was a literal description in Swentik's case, as he won the Open doubles crown with his son, Wyatt Swentik. Beck found somebody young enough to be his son, Chris Hytinen, and they were the Open doubles runners-up.
Each division had team, doubles, singles and all-events categories, with three games bowled per event, though all-events simply combined the scores of the other three events.
The Swentiks rolled 1,237 together over six games in doubles, and with handicap, had a 1,504 score. Beck and Hytinen came in second at 1,434 - 1,240 of it actual pins.
Steve Swentik also was a member of the winning Senior team with Joe Duckworth and Mike Trickey, shooting 2,212, including 1,870 actual.
Beck swept the all-events titles, both Open and Senior. His Senior win was the closest, by 14 pins, with 2,251. His actual scores were 591 in team, 669 in doubles and 613 in singles. For the Open, he had a 64-pin victory with 2,194, with 593 in team, 624 doubles and 599 singles.
While Swentik bowled 15 games over five different categories, Beck actually found time to roll 21 games over three weekends, hitting every category once, and one of them, Senior doubles, twice with two different partners. Beck was also second in Open singles and third in Senior doubles with John Marquess.
Here's some of the winning prize amounts - the Swentiks get to split $205 for their doubles victory, while his winning senior team trio will divide up $255.
Beck earned $94 for his Open all-events win and $77 for the same title on the Senior side.
One in four, or slightly better if the number of entries didn't divide evenly by four, earned prize money. Here's all the cashers, with place, names, total score (actual pinfall score in parentheses):
Team - 1st place, Team Bring It, Glenn Ayotte-Mathew Adams-Dave Stevenson-Justin Stephens, 2,835 (2,714); 2nd, Pinbusters, Chuck Pool-Kathy Parent-Tom Seeke-Andy Pool, 2,797 (2,419).
Doubles - 1st, Swentik-Swentik, 1,504 (1,237); 2nd, Beck-Hytinen, 1,434 (1,240); 3rd, Ayotte-Clay Sandberg, 1,414 (1,369); 4th, Jen Lake-Kristina Kampe, 1,386 (798).
Singles - 1st, Hytinen, 765 (689); 2nd, Beck, 725 (599); 3rd, Tim McIntire, 709 (661); 4th, Scott Salminen, 696 (680); 5th, A. Pool, 690 (655); 6th, Kampe, 688 (418); 7th, Wayne Charbonneau, 683 (511).
All-events - 1st, Beck, 2,194 (1,816); 2nd, Hytinen, 2,130 (1,929); 3rd, Adams, 2,118 (1,893); 4th, Keith Dickson, 2,095 (1,870); 5th, Lake, 2,068 (1,114).
Team - 1st, S. Swentik-Duckworth-Trickey, 2,212 (1,870); 2nd, C. Pool-Stan Uitto-Bill Holm, 2,196 (1,870).
Doubles - 1st, Sandberg-Bob Maki, 1,524 (1,400); 2nd, Duckworth-Rollie Swanson, 1,491 (1,213); 3rd, Beck-John Marquess, 1,434 (1,173); 4th, Darrell Olsen-Dave Kangas, 1,428 (1,234).
Singles - 1st, Charbonneau, 815 (643); 2nd, David St. Onge, 789 (636); 3rd, Maki, 774 (696); 4th, Trickey, 766 (680); 5th, Sandberg, 764 (719); 6th, S. Swentik, 758 (640); 7th, Olsen, 752 (642); 8th, Uitto, 746 (655).
All-events - 1st, Beck, 2,251 (1,873); 2nd, Maki, 2,237 (2,003); 3rd, Duckworth, 2,235 (1,824); 4th, Holm, 2,249 (1,895).
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.