When my bowling team switched leagues this year, I fully expected to see some familiar names and faces. One of the first people I saw on opening night was Brian Soals. Certainly Brian was a familiar face and, as it turns out, Soals was a name that I would see again and again and again.
Brian's team consists of his mother Karen, wife Michelle, daughter Stacy and son Dustin. If he needs a stand-in he can insert the name of his father Dick who is a floating sub in the league. The team name is appropriate. They go by the moniker Just Soals. Well, why not.
The names may be the same but their bowling styles differ greatly. Brian and Dustin throw power balls that hook across the house - exploding the pins. If I tried to emulate either of these guys, I would soon be in traction. Could I possibly match the style of the distaff members of the family? Well, let's take a look.
We'll start with Stacy. She starts at the beginning of the approach before walking slowly to the foul line. There she pauses, takes one big step backwards and brings the ball back above head level before firing the ball down the lane. If I attempted to swing the ball back like she does, I would probably go in that same direction. I'm not about to try her method.
Karen, on the other hand, is much more conventional until she gets to the point where most bowlers begin their slide to the foul line. At this point she suddenly releases the ball. Momentum forces her to take two or three quick steps before she completely stops. If I look up just as she releases the ball and forget who is bowling, I catch my breath thinking she is going to follow the ball all the way to the pins. I probably would do just that.
I think I could handle Michelle's style. She slowly approaches the foul line, releases the ball and immediately returns from whence she came. What the ball is going to do when it reaches the pins doesn't seem to interest her. It's rather comical and this is one Soals family member that I could copy.
Just watching "Just Soals" bowl is entertaining and this week was no exception. At one point late in the evening, Dustin wandered over to my seat and asked me if I was struggling as much as he was. Normally a legitimate question, this time it made no sense for two reasons. First off, I have been struggling all year so there is really "just" no need to ask me, but thanks for your interest.
Secondly, when I looked over at his score, he had thrown the first five strikes in game three. It appears we differ on a definition of the word struggling. Apparently he had scored so badly in the first two games, that he adopted Michelle's "no interest" policy in the final game. As he put it, "I haven't seen one shot."
When I finished my third game, I looked over and saw that Dustin had the first nine. Now I was intrigued to say the least. I watched as he threw his first ball in the 10th, and true to his word, he released the ball and immediately turned away from the foul line. The ball slammed into the pocket and all 10 pins went into the pit. Eleventh ball - same thing.
Now everyone is watching and on his 12th shot he misses his mark. I hear people yelling for the ball to "sit" or "get across." Alas the ball hits directly on the head pin, but the bowling gods decided to - for once at least - give a bowler a break. The 6 and 7 pins both stood momentarily, but each eventually went down and everyone cheered the perfect game.
The game was Dustin's first ever 300, but not for the family. Dad Brian had one a couple of weeks ago - his career 13th. Grandpa Dick, who happened to be bowling for the opposing team on this night, has one as well. That makes a three-generation family of perfection and that's just cool.
I congratulated Dustin afterward and told him that he will have to tell his son what will be expected of him when he hits the lanes. He might have to wait a while though. Skylar is only 3 months old!
Just another night at the lanes as "Just Soals" just bowls like a bowling family will, well, just do. I don't know about you, but I think it's "just" incredible.
Bob Wilson flirted with a triplicate in the Big 8 League and what a triplicate it would have been. Wilson rolled games of 249-269-250 for a big 768 series. I'm trying to come to grips with a 249 game being the lowest score of the evening! Rich Yates Jr. shot 724, Rich Yates Sr. 674, Robert Terris Jr. 674, Chris King 660, Mark Baxter 642, Jack Book 640, Ken Bauman 637, Ben Hoyda 625, Brian Soals 623, Dave Ross 622, Aaron Sherman 609 and Scott Plickert 601. In the Alley Cats League Robin Dickman shot 619, Lorrie Williams 540, Brenda Rosier 529, Virginia Vanover 507 and Anne Laughlin 476.
In action from the K of C Lanes Bennett Paulus shot 613 to lead the Senior League. Ken Ritzler had 574, Dan Gaietto 565, Doug Snyder 561, Herb Sendelbach 555, Steve Reser 525, Fred Reimer 521, Dan Roessner 519 and Mike Reser 513. In the Thursday Night League James Lord shot 612, Chris Johnson 602, Aaron Sherman 598, Scott Ferguson 586, Ken Gaietto 575, Andy Hess 575, Darl Elchert 559, Jim Rainey 557, Ron Ransom 556 and Matt Distel 554. Jim Ruess shot 562, Paul Gosche 545, Dick Gabel 517, Bob Reinhart 513, Dan Coppes 498, Bill Mizen 495, John Ferstler 476, Steve Schafer 452, Jim Donaldson 446, Jim Ferstler 446, Bob West 446 and Dave Everhart 443 in the 55 Plus League.
Tim Sturgill paced the Rocket League with 670. Steve Barnes had 628, Samantha Wiley 612, Shawn Coppus 604, Dave Coppus 603 and Dottie Funk 546. Tyson Shope shot 718, Dave Jumper 681, Rich Yates Jr. 650, Tim Sturgill 614, Ken Lofton 603, Harry Smith 602 and Cheryl Radin-Norman 395 in the Wednesday Morning League. In Sportsman League action Rich Yates Sr. shot 663, Greg Tiell 643, Jim Ruess 624, Dick Gabel 605, Scott Hartsel 602, Ron Jordan 592, Harry Smith 583 and Doyle Magers 582. Tim Sturgill shot 636, Bob Steele 615, Gary Golden 615, Marie Meyer 476 and Rose Steele 460 in the Sunday Night Rock N Roll League.
Al Stephenson is The A-T's bowling columnist.
Read his blog at: