Over the years, John Glowczewski and Brian Fakler have proven they can bowl with the best in the Winona area. Now they're going to find out if they can compete head to head with other top amateur from around the country, as well as the big guns of the Professional Bowlers Association Tour.
On Sunday, Glowczewski and Fakler will take off for Wauwatosa, Wis., a Milwaukee suburb, and compete in the United States Bowling Congress Masters, the first major tournament of the PBA this season.
All bowlers will practice for two hours on Monday at AMF Bowlero Lanes, and the competition starts on Tuesday with five qualifying games. Five more qualifying games will be rolled on Wednesday. The 500-person field will be cut in half after 10 games. The remainder of the field will bowl five more games Thursday morning, at which time the field will be trimmed to the top 63 bowlers, plus last year's champion (Danny Wiseman). From there, it's a 64-person, double-elimination match-play tournament, with the top five bowlers moving on to Sunday's final.
"Realistically, if I don't embarrass myself, I'll be happy," said Fakler, who averaged 231 last year, despite missing the first three months of the season after knee surgery. "I'd like to go down there and make it through qualifying and into match play. If I can average over 200, I'll be very happy."
For Glowczewski, the goal is about the same.
"We're bowling against the best bowlers in the world," said the 10-time city average champion. "It's tough. Gene Arentz (of La Crosse) bowled there last year and moved to a pair of lanes that Pete Weber bowled a 160 on and missed the cut.
"Obviously, you're going there hoping to bowl well and at least make the cut and get a $1,000 check. If I make the cut, I'll be very, very happy."
To qualify for the tournament, amateurs must average 210 or higher for two consecutive years. Bowlers must also pay a $450 entry fee.
The event will be bowled on sport condition, where more oil is put on the outside of the lane. It's a pattern Glowczewski and Fakler are familiar with.
"We've bowled other tournaments on that," Fakler said. "The national tournament condition is like a sport condition. If you miss your mark, you're going to pay the price."
Added Glowczewski: "Guys that can throw the bowl down the boards are better off on this type of condition. If you're bowling well, you'll bowl well on this condition. You can't miss by five boards or you'll be in trouble."
Fakler and Glowczewski are the first Winona bowlers to participate in the tournament since Steve Kohner in the 1980s. Kohner qualified by winning the all-events scratch title in the Minnesota State Bowling Tournament.
Steffes on a roll
Mandi Steffes was certainly on a roll last week.
Monday night in the Pin Topplers League at Westgate Bowl, Steffes fired a 774 national honor count with games of 265, 266 and 243. That is the second highest women's series ever rolled in the Winona Women's Bowling Association - second only to Steffes' 787 series that was turned in on Feb. 28 of this year.
Two nights later in the Mixers League at Westgate, Steffes started with a 267 game, before slowing down a bit with a 217 and a 203 for a 687 honor count.
"I was really focused on Monday," Steffes said. "Usually I have too much fun and lose it. But that night it stayed focused."
Steffes had a chance to break the city record until she left the 4-9 split in the sixth frame of her last game.
For the week, Steffes averaged 243.5 per game.
Dan Chambers tossed the highest men's series in league play on Tuesday night with a 788 honor count in the American League at Westgate.
Jeff Smelser enjoyed a big night Thursday with a 761 series in the Classic League at Westgate.
Tod Walters is quietly putting together a great year at Winona Bowl. Last week, he fired a 722 series in the Mixed Nuts League, a 709 in the Legion League and a 704 in the Blue Ribbon League, giving him nine honor counts for the season.
Keri Prigge was right behind Steffes for the women with a 676 honor count in the Sunsetters League at Westgate. Michelle Kohner also rolled her first career 600 on Wednesday with a 607 series in the Mixers League.
Also in the Sunsetters League, the Schniepp's Bar team, led by Mary Lou Hazelton's 642 honor count, put together a 3,379 series, which is the eighth highest women's team series ever rolled in Winona.
Steve Brown became the 10th Winona bowler to turn in a 300 game, this one coming in the Action League at Westgate. Last Friday night, Mitch Pasche rolled a perfect game in the Masters League at Westgate.