This column follows last night's "EPIC ENCOUNTER" on the glorious grounds of Valley Lanes.
The epic encounter I am referring to is last night's meeting between the Daily Sun News bowling team and the Lucky Strikes-Darrell Stenberg, Debbie Stenberg, Todd Newhouse and Dusty Van Hollebeke. The Lucky Strikes won last night's meeting and earned the right to be in a bowl off between other teams who won the different thirds in our Sunday's Mixers League in hopes of winning the big money.
My partners on the Daily Sun News team are Rod Smith and Vickie Vanderhoef. Rod is also vice president of the league, which basically means he can get a cup of coffee real cheap with his administrative title.
We like to refer to our story as the "Miracle at Valley Lanes."
Bowling is something I have only been doing for the last couple of years when my boss, Bob Story, brought Rod and I in a set of bowling bowls-matching I might add. A bunch of us down at the newspaper formed a team a couple of years ago. We didn't win the league championship, but we had fun. Rod was even named the bowler of the year.
Last year, I wasn't able to bowl with our team because league play was on Monday nights and I had my weekly meeting with the Sunnyside City Council. This year, the league moved to Sunday nights and the rest of our prized team quickly abandoned ship on us. But, Rod, Vickie and I have held our own. We have even had a little help from Elena Olmstead, who saved our bacon one week late in this season and helped set up last night's epic encounter.
I have no great bowling style. In fact, at the start of the season the gutter was a place my ball called home. I just throw the bowl straight down the lane now and see how many pins I can pick up.
For the first two parts of this season we were every other team's homecoming game. For those of you who may not know, a football team usually schedules a weaker opponent for its homecoming game to help ensure victory. But by the latter part of the season, which stretches from fall until this Sunday when we finish up the league, we started picking it up. It doesn't hurt either that we have a combined handicap of something like 345 pins. Usually, we are 100 or more pins up on everyone before play actually begins. Recently, we have bowled like gods. I mean gods. We tore up the lanes. We went through a period where we climbed in to first place in the league. During the four-week stretch we swept our opponents I bowled my second 200 game. Sure, I only made it by one pin, but hey.
After a week off because of the Easter holiday, we were a bit rusty. We also were trying to figure out how much money we owed to the league since our teammates who committed abandoned us and left Rod, Vickie and I to fend for ourselves.
We were a bit distracted this past Sunday as we went up against Dave Hill, Maria Hill, Heather Rodriguez and Bruce Epps. None of them really helped our cause as we made a run to secure our title. If we had been the Titanic at that point, Dave and Bruce would have been the icebergs that sank us. But we still held our own, the opposition only won the first two games by a combined 32 pins before we stormed back to a dominating third game victory to garner the split. Meanwhile the Lucky Strikes swept Dan Bieber and his team. Just so everyone knows, if Andi Bieber had bowled that final game, her team would have won and there wouldn't have been the need for last night's epic encounter.
We took a three-person team into last night's EPIC ENCOUNTER and nearly got it done. But, Van Hollebeke's 256 in the last game sank our chances of moving on for greater glory. Not even my best series ever, tossing games of 213-132-156, was enough to get us on the path to championship glory. The last game proved to be much like the seventh game of an NBA championship contest. The Daily Sun News won the first game by 73 pins. The Lucky Strikes come back and win the second game by 74 pins and then Hollebeke's 256 sank us in the last game. Of course, Todd Newhouse's series didn't help us either. Nor Darrell's or his wife's.
But now the Daily Sun News knows what the Seattle Mariners feel like. The crushing agony of having a championship within your sights to only let it slip through your fingers like wet noodles.
But, as someone just told me, there is always next year.
. Mike Kantman can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org