Doug Troke came into the adult bowling leagues in Winona in the mid-1990s with one of the sweetest left-handed strokes around.
He averaged better than 220 for many years, and had an 813 series to his credit in October of 2002.
But for the last 3_ years, Troke has only been a spectator. He injured his ring finger on his left hand four years ago, then pulled something in the middle finger on the same hand shortly thereafter.
Tuesday night, Troke was back in the groove. In just the fifth time bowling in league play since the finger injuries, he knocked down a 758 national honor count in the American League at Westgate Bowl with games of 237, 266 and 255.
“I wanted to see if I could come back,” the 32-year-old Troke said. “I’m bowling part-time on Tuesdays. I only have five weeks in. I was hoping for a 700 sometime this year. The end of the year was my goal, but it came last night, which is good.”
Ten years ago, Troke bowled two or three times a week and carried one of the best averages in town. He came into the men’s leagues about the same time as Seth Bonow, Scott Schultz and Mark Walters.
Troke missed not being able to compete the last few years.
“I did and I didn’t,” he said. “I found other things to do. Plus I got married about a year ago. I missed parts of it. I missed being with my teammates and friends.”
He was encouraged to join the Kuehn Trucking team on Tuesday night by Dale Bartelson, who also bowls part-time on the team after moving to Rosemount last spring. Troke didn’t practice much before the season started and rolled a 550 series his first night of league. His average has steadily increased and was at 211 after Tuesday’s big score.
“In the last 3_ years, I probably bowled 20-25 games,” said Troke, who works in the transportation department at Fastenal. “After that first night, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do. The following week I had a 675. I just have to get back into it.
“I’m going to see how it goes this year. Hopefully next year I’ll bowl full-time or possibly part-time in two leagues. This is my trial-and-error year and we’ll see what happens. I’ll see after this year if I want to come back or not.”
All youth bowlers in the Southeast Minnesota USBC are invited to compete in the Geoff Gardner Memorial Fund Youth Bowling Tournament on Sunday, Dec. 14, at Westgate Bowl. The event begins at noon.
Entry forms are available at both Westgate and Winona Bowl. Bowlers can pre-register by filling out a form and dropping it off at Westgate. They may also register the day of the event from 10:30-11:30 a.m. The cost is $10.
All bowlers will roll four qualifying games and the top eight scores (with handicap) will advance to a single-elimination roll-off. A total of $1,000 in scholarships will be awarded, including $400 for first place.
The deadline for registering for the Winona Bowling Association Men’s City Tournament is quickly approaching. All entries must be turned in by Dec. 6.
The event will be held on weekends beginning on Dec. 27 at Westgate Bowl. Entry forms can be found at all bowling houses in the WBA.
The top men’s score of the season was recorded Tuesday night by Tod Walters with a 799 series in the Blue Ribbon League at Winona Bowl. Kyle Malewicki also hit it big in the same league with a 762 series.
Jeff Smelser continued to score well in the American League with a 756 honor count. Paul Jandt also broke the 750 mark with a 753, which included a 300 game, in the Action/Knights of Columbus League at Westgate last Thursday.
A night later in the Masters League at Westgate, Tyler Brown also rolled a perfect game.
Also nailing men’s honor counts were Matt Wise (730), Richard Orlikowski (725), Rick Prenot (724), Adam Stockhausen (708), Steve Walters (704) and Aaron Serwa (702).
Not to be outdone, two men in Westgate’s Senior Citizens League, Greg Nikolaisen (751) and Joe Wise (716), also rolled 700s.
Jenny Glowczewski tossed the first 700 of her career Monday night in the Pin Topplers League with a 701 series. She put together games of 237, 206 and 258.
Her John Glow’s Pro Shop teammate, Mandi Steffes, also had the hot hand with a 694 honor count. Glowczewski and Steffes led their team to a 3,487 series, which is the third highest women’s series ever bowled in Winona. John Glow’s Pro Shop now holds the top three scores all-time.
Kassi Kluzik (649), Diane Marley (636), Laurie Wiseman (633), Julie Moldenhauer (605) and Krystal Dorman (605) also tallied 600s. This does not include Wednesday night’s scores.
Anne Besek enjoyed her first career 500 series Monday night in the Alley Gaters League at Westgate with a 506.