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Bonnie Mattson bowls first-ever 300 game by a woman at Marquette’s Superior Lanes

January 17, 2012
By STEVE BROWNLEE - Journal Sports Staff ( , The Mining Journal

Ah, finally, it's the women's turn to shine on the bowling lanes this week.

I always have a hard time not overemphasizing the guys since they're the ones who get most of the perfect 300 games and 800 series.

Friday night, however, it was Bonnie Mattson's turn in the limelight with the oh-so-rare 300 game at Superior Lanes in the Friday 800 Mixed League.

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Just to kick it up a notch, Heather Sandberg added a 700 series during league play on Wednesday at Country Lanes in Ishpeming.

But Mattson was the real history maker.

Checking back in my bowling records, I found that this was only the third sanctioned perfect game ever bowled by a woman in Marquette County, and the first at the center in Marquette Township under any of its names dating back to the mid-1980s - Westwood Lanes, Windmill Lanes and now Superior Lanes.

The other women's 300s in the county came at Country Lanes, by Linda Spencer in September 1999 and Ruby Kaukola in February 1994.

Mattson is a 26-year-old lefthander who graduated from Marquette Senior High School and spent a year on the school's bowling team, too.

An employee at JC Penney's, she just graduated from Northern Michigan in December after majoring in photography.

While she's been carrying a career-high average of around 180 this season, no one suspected she was going to pull off a feat like this - not even Bonnie.

"I guess I knew somewhere deep down inside me that I've thought about 300, but I never figured it would really happen," she told me on Saturday.

She added that the most strikes she'd ever stated a "real" game with was "probably six," though she had a 279 game in practice when she was in high school with seven or eight strikes to start it off.

Friday's 300 came right away in the first game, using her 14-pound Lane #1 Pink Panther reactive resin ball. It's one of the main reasons her bowling has improved over the last year.

She got the ball just over a year ago as a Christmas present.

"Before that, I was throwing a 12-pound ball," she said. "I've been bowling in leagues ever since I turned 18."

Of course, Mattson had support from everyone around her on Friday night, but particularly from teammate - and boyfriend - Ryan Kennedy.

"I knew what was going on, my team was trying to keep me calm," she said. "But I wasn't sure if I could keep going, but Ryan said, 'Yes you can.'"

Along with the support came the excitement, too.

"(Teammate) Muriel (Latowski), I found out she told some of the bowlers next door to us, and I guess they told the ones next to them," Mattson said.

So in the 10th frame, the most dreaded thing happened for a bowler shooting for 300 - everybody around her stopped bowling.

"Nobody was throwing around us, and yes, by the last ball, nobody was bowling at all," she said. "At the moment I threw the last strike, I was shaking. It was real quiet and I remember I went down to one knee."

Then the center erupted.

"Everyone congratulated me. I was crying and laughing at the same time."

Needless to say, all the emotion drained her and she finished the night with games of 195 and 144 for a 639 series.

Among others, she mentioned former teammate Mark Brandel and former high school coach Hope Virch with helping her with her game.

"Hope came up and said, 'You deserve it,'" Mattson said.

Two nights earlier and 15 miles to the west, Sandberg was rolling her fourth 700 series even though she's only 22 years old.

A former star on the Ishpeming-Negaunee bowling team, this time the Palmer resident and daughter of Country general manager Clay Sandberg rolled 708 on games of 214, 278 and 216.

Using her 14-pound Ebonite Playmaker reactive resin ball, she started her big middle game with a spare before throwing nine strikes in a row through the first ball in the 10th frame.

"It was a clean series," she was proud to say about missing no spares.

Sandberg, a 2009 graduate of NMU, was bowling her second shift that night in the Country Trio League after shooting in the high 500s in the Superior Iron Range Federal Credit Union League.

"I used my 'dry lanes' ball since I knew they'd be hooking," she said about the lane conditioner drying up after the first shift.

She has to shoot scores like this just to keep up with her teammates - her dad, who generally carries a 210 to 220 average, and Steve Windahl, who leads the area with a 233 average.

In fact, Windahl wasn't there that night and instead bowled a make-up series the previous Sunday right next to me, and only missed 800 because of solid 8-pins he left in each of the final two frames of the third game, finishing with 793.

And I've been promising a few people I'd mention Zach Scott, a current member of the MSHS bowling team, who shot 300 in the team's New Year's Eve fundraising event held at Superior Lanes.

While it may not count like a sanctioned score, I imagine all the pressure was there with all his teammates, a bunch of classmates and parents and supporters of the program out there that night.

With all this news this week, I didn't get a chance to collect all the Mining Journal Bowler of the Week candidates, so I'll cover two weeks worth next week.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.



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