The first bowlers honored with the new Mining Journal Bowler of the Week honors have something in common.
Both are healing from injuries that affected their games.
Sandy Kaleva of Republic rolled 147 pins over her 165 average last week in the Thursday Coors Light Ladies League at Country Lanes in Ishpeming. Her 642 series came on games of 185, 246 and 211.
She wins the honor for being the most pins over her average, which is down a bit this year because she's still working on coming back from knee replacement surgery this summer.
Kaleva has rolled several three-game series of 700 of better the past few years, a feat only done by a few women in our area.
And it looks like she might be ready to add another one or two to her career total soon.
Second among the ladies was Amanda Virch of Marquette, the daughter of Marquette Senior High School bowling coach Hope Virch. She was 85 pins over her 143 average in the Tuesday Night Mixed League at Superior Lanes in Marquette. She rolled 514 on games of 179, 192 and 143.
And yes, she is a former bowler in the MSHS bowling program.
For the men, Bill Belanger of Beaver Grove rolled 177 pins over his 166 average in the Tuesday Miller Genuine Draft Major League at Country Lanes. His 675 set included games of 259, 182 and 234.
Belanger didn't have the kind of serious injury that Kaleva did, however. His "injury" was a cut right in the middle of the pad on his bowling thumb.
It might not sound like much, but if you can imagine rubbing that spot over and over in a place where you can't really put a bandage on if you want to keep bowling.
My co-worker at The Mining Journal soldiered on, with his average suffering as a result. But his three-week, nine-game average was just enough to have it count, so he gets credit for persevering since the cut apparently is healing.
Belanger is the owner of several perfect 300 games, too, so once he gets everything right again, he could be dangerous while his average is recovering.
Close behind Belanger was Andy Pool of Marquette, who shot 158 pins over his 203 average in the Country Trio League in Ishpeming. Last Wednesday, he shot a big 767 set with 279, 213 and 275.
The top men's shooter at Superior Lanes was Erik Vanlangendon in the Wednesday Industrial League. He shot 120 over with a 705 on games of 201, 245 and 259.
I wanted to provide lots of detail this week with the Bowler of the Week race, which I'll call the "BOW" for short, since this is the first week we're honoring bowlers.
But I'll always get you winners mentioned every week, even when the topic is something different. And mention anyone else with a significantly high pins-over-average score, too.
I thank league secretaries Justin Stephens, Joleen North and Mike Trickey at Country Lanes and Hope Virch at Superior Lanes for helping me compile this week's honorees, and to all the other secretaries that are checking their scores to nominate some of their league members.
I'd also invite secretaries from leagues in Alger, Baraga, Luce and Schoolcraft counties to send me nominees for BOW.
Just use the email address at the end of this column and be sure to include your league name, including the night you bowl, and the bowler's name, hometown, average, series and individual games and the date the score was bowled.
Anybody 100 pins over average is probably a good bet to be nominated. All I ask is that the average being used is either from this year and is from nine games or more, or if your nominee has less than nine games in, use a book average from last season.
And send me an email for any questions about these honors.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.