The bowling teams at Winona State University don't get the publicity and headlines like the school's football, basketball, baseball and softball programs.
But that doesn't mean they're not successful.
Bowling is just a club sport at WSU that is funded through the student union budget. For those who participate in the sport, though, it's more than a club sport.
"This is my fourth year in the program," said Dan Chambers, the player-coach of the men's team. "We've gotten better every year since I've been here. And we've only got two actual seniors on the team."
Winona State will play host to a Wisconsin Collegiate Bowling Conference meet next weekend at Winona Bowl. The conference consists of nine Wisconsin colleges and WSU for the men, and 10 Wisconsin colleges plus Winona State for the women. The men will bowl six games on Saturday at 9 a.m. and three more on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The women will do the same at 3 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday.
The conference has just four meets a year - two in the fall and two in February. The conference champion receives an automatic berth to the sectional tournament. WSU's men's team has won the last two conference titles and are currently in fourth place this year, as are the women.
"Our goal is to win conference again," said Chambers, a Rochester native. "For us being a small school, our best chance to make the sectional tournament is to win the conference."
The men's team consists of Chambers, Eric Averbeck of Alma, Wis., Brian Segner of Fridley, Minn., Eric Woestehoff of Belle Plaine, Minn., Jeff Osterud of Ham Lake, Minn., Derek Hudyma of Rosemount, Minn., and Matt Cada of Winona.
The teams practice on Wednesday nights at Winona Bowl. Both teams take six players to meets.
Junior Taylor Basara, a McHenry, Ill., native, is the player-coach of the women's team that has made tremendous strides in recent years.
"My freshman year, it was pretty much a have-fun thing," Basara said. "We've really stepped it up. The girls are pushing one another. This is the highest we've ever been. We've beaten some of the teams that we struggled with before.
"We can still place second if we push it. We've got tough competition from the Madison girls and Whitewater."
Basara is joined on the team by three Minnesotans, Shannon John of Circle Pines, Alicia Harvala of Buffalo, and Tami Oeltjen of Stewartville, as well as three freshmen from Illinois - Lauren Kuhn, Ryan Ebbens and Melissa Tait.
Todd Weege turned in his second 800 series in the past month with an 802 series Thursday night in the Classic League at Westgate Bowl. He put together games of 268, 255 and 279.
Tod Walters certainly picked a fine time to roll his top series of the season. Walters tossed a 774 national honor count last Sunday and teamed with Brian Fakler to take the lead in doubles with an impressive 1,470 score in the Winona Bowling Association Men's City Tournament at Winona Bowl. Fakler fired a 696 series. They're also the scratch leaders.
Walters followed that score with a 748 series Tuesday in the Blue Ribbon League.
Myron Weege Jr. fired a big 793 series in the American League at Westgate Bowl. Geoff Schewe was close behind with a 769 in the Blue Ribbon League, and John Glowczewski added a 756 in the Classic League.
Sue Buermann paced the ladies with a 664 honor count in the Sunsetters League at Westgate. Keri Prigge tallied a 653 series in the same league.
Rolling their first honor counts of the season were Curtis Czaplewski (730), Jeff Besek (708), Dick Flatten (707), Linda Rose (647), Tammy Bigelow (606) and Dawn Bronk (600).
It's been a week of big team series for the men. Bowling a makeup for the Masters League at Westgate, the Tri-Mac team tossed a 3,632 scratch series. That is the fifth highest scratch series all-time in Winona. All five members of the team - Dennis Schewe Jr. (725), Steve Hawley (708), Weege (729), Schewe (700) and Greg Schewe (752) - turned in honor counts.
Tuesday night, the Westgate Bowl team from the American League rolled a 3,608 series, while the Qualitee Screen Printing team from the Blue Ribbon League added a 3,503.