It wasn't that long ago, the 2001-02 season to be exact, that Seth Bonow was the king of the hill in bowling in Winona. That's the year he posted a 235.9 average at Westgate Bowl. At the time, it was the highest single-season average ever by a Winona bowler.
While the average may have slipped a little since then (he averaged 218 in two leagues last year), the talent and the drive to get better certainly have not.
This year, Bonow is taking his game to new heights. He's still carrying solid averages in Winona - 228 in the American League at Westgate and 222 in the Legion League at Winona Bowl following last Friday's 747 national honor count.
It's out of town where the 31-year-old is making a name for himself. Bonow is competing full-time in the Central Bowling Alliance, an Upper Midwest bowling organization that holds tournaments once a month at different locations.
In the first event of the year on July 18, Bonow won the title at AMF Maple Lanes in Fridley, Minn., by averaging 246 for 18 games.
"I'm really learning a lot," Bonow said. "It's a tremendous help to talk to other bowlers about equipment. The people you meet are just great. Some of the guys are on the (PBA) Tour. They're out there to help you.
"I signed on this year to do it full time. I go out and practice. I'm taking it a little more serious."
The money is not huge in the CBA. Bonow says the average winner's share is around $750. There are usually around 50 bowlers that take part in the tournaments. Greg Fakler and Bob Prenot of Winona are also members of the CBA.
Bonow bowls on Tuesday nights in the American League with his dad Bill, who was the city average winner back in the 1981-82 season, making the Bonows and Faklers (Greg and Gordie) the only father-son duos to have won one.
It's been his dad's help that has pushed Bonow to reach for new heights.
"He's been back in town for two years now," Bonow said of his dad, who moved to Texas for a while. "He's helped a ton. It's hard to put a number or factor on it. He can see things that I'm doing wrong. He knows my game inside and out. He's that much of a help. It's great to have him."
There is no one in Winona that throws the ball as hard and as powerful as Bonow. He figures he throws it an average of 23-25 miles per hour. When shooting at single-pin spares, it's probably closer to 30.
"When I slow down, I seem to miss more," Bonow said. "Dad always says to throw straight at it. Everyone else moves to the left when the lanes break down. I move right. For me, with my speed, it's the best place to be."
If everything falls in place, Bonow would like to take the next step with his bowling game.
"I would like to get on tour," he said. "I bowled regionals in Texas. I heard there's a regional coming to La Crosse. And I'd like to hit the Masters at least once."
With Bonow's power and talent, there's no telling how far he can go.
Krystal Dorman enjoyed plenty of success on the lanes in 2006, and it ended with a 698 honor count last Saturday in the Mixed Nuts League at Winona Bowl. To kick off 2007, Dorman fired a 278 game and 670 series Wednesday in the Lamplighter League.
Lindsay Boynton rolled her top series of the season and the top women's series at the Winona Athletic Club this year with a 660 honor count last Friday in the Tator League.
Keri Prigge continued her surge in the Sunsetters League at Westgate with a 659 series Wednesday.
Dale Bartelson paced the men with a season-high 782 series last Thursday in the Classic League at Westgate. He added a 704 on Tuesday in the American League.
Dave Hultgren proved there's still some game left in him with a 759 honor count in the American League.
Turning in their first honor counts of the season in the past week were Dave McLaughlin (704), Kiel Jenkin (703), Brad Lisowski (700) and Rod Storm.
And even the seniors are getting in the 700 mode as Joe Wise tossed a 712 series Tuesday in the Senior Citizens League at Westgate.