Mike Gilliland, Ray Howser this week's top bowlers at Classic Lanes
Larry Mason

Jan. 2, 2006 - Mike Gilliland shot the only 700 series at Classic Lanes this week, in the Men's Commercial league, on Thursday night. Ray Howser came close to hitting a 700 on Tuesday, but fell short by four pins, and had to settle for a 696. That's as good as it got.

This was a week in which only two of the usual four leagues took to the lanes due to the fact that the Sunday Mixed and the Monday Ladies leagues did not bowl because of the Christmas holiday weekend. As a result, Becky Bowden didn't have an opportunity to defend her league-leading high average, and another 104 bowlers didn't get to compete. Three of our leagues will take to the lanes this week, Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. The ladies have another week off.

For several weeks - nay, several months now - Mike Gilliland has been telling me that when I made the statement that Becky Bowden was the only individual who had ever rolled back-to-back 700s on the same day at Classic Lanes, I was wrong. Guess what? I was. Mike has done it also. And I even wrote about it in this column. One's memory tends to fade with age. Imagine - me - making such an error. Oh, well.

Now, back to this week's story. Mike Gilliland gets to claim all of the glory this week, shooting the only 700 series in this the 17th week of the men's league. Mike's series was a 718 consisting of games of 277, 198 and 243. It is Mike's second 700 series of the season and his best series in the current fall/winter league competition. This series moved Mike to 18th place on the high series chart, and raised his Thursday night's average to an even 200. Gilliland's highest average comes out of the Tuesday league, where Mike carries a 201, which ranks 21st on the high average board.

Gilliland's 277 first game in this week's series is his highest of the season. It moved Mike to ninth place on the high game list, up 13 places from last week's ranking of 22nd. Gilliland will be the first to admit that he hasn't hit his stride, when it comes to his bowling. Here's hoping this is the first of much more to come from Mike in the 2006/07 season. Mike rolled a 602 series during Tuesday's league play.

Like Gilliland, Ray Howser had the chance to bowl twice this week, once on Thursday and the other on Tuesday. On Thursday, Howser constructed a 635 series, on what was a difficult lane condition based on scores recorded by the remainder of Thursday's bowlers. On Tuesday night, Ray came close to recording what would have been his second 700 series of the season, but had to settle for a 696 series, shooting games of 236, 220 and 240. Howser ranks eighth on the high series board with a 756, a series shot earlier in the season. Ray is carrying a 207 in the Tuesday Mixed league, and a 204 on Thursday. He is tied for 15th on the high average board and ranks 13th on the high game list with a 268 game, a score he has booked three times this season. Much like Gilliland, Howser has been slow to find his “A” game, but he may be about to turn the corner.

D.J. Kast tried very hard to shoot his third 700 series of the season this week, but a dismal third game erased his chances of getting there. D.J. had to settle for a 684 series Thursday, with games of 234, 278 and 172. His was the highest series thrown by his team, Classic Lanes, on the night, and was the third highest for the week. Kast is now averaging 210 on Sunday and 204 on Thursday. He ranks 13th on the high average board, seventh on the high game list with a 279, where he joins seven others, and is 14th on the high series chart with a 728.

Joe Kirkpatrick bowls for the Classic Lanes team on Thursdays, like Kast. Joe shot the week's fourth best series, a 682, tossing games of 255, 227 and 200. Kirkpatrick ranks 22nd on the high average board, carrying an even 200 in both the Tuesday and Thursday leagues. Joe's best series of the current season is a 685 shot earlier in the year, which places him 31st on the high series chart. Kirkpatrick's highest game this season is a 263, which holds 17th place on the high game list. Joe has yet to break the 700 series barrier, something he has done repeatedly in prior seasons, so we are still waiting to see him breakout of the doldrums. He will.

David Soeder finished our abbreviated league week with the fifth best series, a 669 shot on Tuesday night. David rolled games of 255, 221 and 193. David is averaging 208 on Tuesday and 200 on Thursday. He ranks 14th on the high average board. His best series is a 728, something he has done twice this season. It holds 14th place on the high series chart. Mr. Soeder ranks 13th on the high game list with a pair of 268 games to his credit.

Incidentally, Soeder's team, Lightning Strikes, was bowling for the Tuesday Mixed league's second quarter championship against the Maggie Mae's at the time. But in spite of Soeder's series, Ray Howser's series, a 617 from Wes Campbell and Donna Soeder being 23 pins over her series average, and their winning all four competition points for the night, they finished where they started the night, in second place, losing the quarter's position round by a single point. Their problem was simple: they trailed Maggie's team by five points going into the night's play.

Harold “Mr. Sergeant” (he makes us call him that) McClure managed to fashion our sixth highest series of the week, a 664, thrown on Thursday night, on what had to be a very difficult lane pattern. I can say this because there were only 14 600s rolled Thursday, to go along with Mike Gilliland's 718, and there are 70 bowlers in this league, most of whom are capable of shooting 600 or better. At any rate, Mr. Sgt McClure tossed games of 199, 232 and 233, bowling from the left side of the lane, because he happens to be left-handed. It is interesting to note that his was the only 600 rolled on his lanes, and that, of the remaining nine bowlers, all were right-handed.

There are bowlers who contend that left-handers have an advantage because they seldom have another left-hander bowling against them, so their “shot” or oil pattern, doesn't get disturbed. Oh, well. Whatever the reality is, Harold is carrying a 213 average on Sunday and a 212 on Thursday, and ranks 10th on the high average board. He is tied with Michael Carter. His best series this season is a 774, which holds third place on the high series chart. McClure has rolled six 700s since August. Harold's best game of the current season is a 279, which puts him into an eight-way tie for

seventh place on the high game list.

Regarding the argument about left-handers and their advantage, I hasten to point out that on lanes 11 and 12, right-hander Mike Gilliland, bowling for Service Rental, shot his 718, while Classic Lanes' team members, D.J. Kast, a right-hander, shot 684, Joe Kirkpatrick, a right-hander, shot 682, Wes Campbell, a right-hander, shot a 651, and Scott Roach, yet another right-hander, I believe, shot a 650. The remaining member of the Classic Lanes squad shot a 487. Of the four remaining members of the Service Rental squad, all right-handers, three shot 500s, (583,564, 564), while one shot a 489. In that one squad appeared to bowl fairly well, while the other struggled, and they were all right-handed, it would seem there has to be some other factor, other than “shot” disruption at play. I wonder what it could be? And, it might also be important to note that the Classic Lanes squad shot the night's highest scratch total, 3,154. Go figure.

Others who bowled well this week include: David Gholson (659 Thursday/637 Tuesday), Nick Painter (654), Wes Campbell (651 Thursday/617 Tuesday), Scott Roach (650), Don Kast (636), Jerry A. Thompson (633) and Bruce Michaelson (631).� � � � � � � � �

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Larry Mason writes a weekly column on the bowling leagues at Classic Lanes. His column appears on Tuesday.

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