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Senior bowlers finish state tournament


October 25, 2018

Thompson Falls saw a brief influx in population and commerce the last five weekends as bowlers from around the state converged at Rimrock Lanes for the 2018 Montana State Senior Bowling Tournament. This is the second state level tournament held in Thompson Falls, the first being in 2014. Co-directors of the event, Sandy True and Ginger Ward, shared that the area’s natural beauty and friendly community were the main factors that resulted in the state bowling board approving this year’s location, as well as the upgraded lanes at the Rimrock.

“Bowlers ranted and raved about the autumn colors and the pleasant drive from all corners of the state,” shared Ward, who acknowledged that volunteers from the local bowling chapter helped make the tournament sail smoothly and avoid gutters. “The friendliness of the community and the familiarity from having a good experience in 2014 were a definite plus.”

Enjoying the “Home of Western Hospitality” were 247 senior bowlers who trickled in and out of the county for five weekends beginning September 21 and wrapping up Sunday, October 21. Often, the hotels in Thompson Falls were booked, resulting in participants getting to know Trout Creek as well. Local restaurants enjoyed the weekend boosts, and visitors were able to find out-of-the-way gems such as the Wild Coyote, where they were treated to local flavor away from Main Street. Other economic boosts came from spouses of bowlers with no interest in the tournament and days free to explore the area. Mighty Fine T’s printed towels and t-shirts for the bowling association to sell – and sold out of 72 of each item.

“With all these Montana bowlers wearing the same shirts, it made the lanes look as though we were all one big team,” joked Ward.

Local businesses and organizations contributed to the swag/gift bags handed out to bowlers. Notepads with logos, candy, informational and historical publications, and the Falls Chamber of Commerce “Things to Do” brochures were taken home as keepsakes from the tourney after use.

Competitors could choose which weekend to bowl and how often, so long as their six-game requirement was met. Thirty-five “shifts” of bowling were held throughout the month-long tourney – 7 shifts a week for five weekends, all overseen by the co-directors and volunteers of the local chapter.

“We even had a special visit from the state association manager Tom Brendgord and his wife, who bowled the last weekend,” said Ward, adding that visits from other state-level bowling dignitaries included the president, vice-president and several board members.

Within the six age brackets in men’s and women’s divisions, seven of the 12 winners were from Thompson Falls. According to Ward, that many placing from one town or the hosting town is unheard of. In the Men’s Super Seniors Open Division, Ron Sharp took lead placement, with Ralph Schendel winning Division A, Tony Munro in Division B, and Division C being taken by Ron Beaty. In the Women’s Division A, Ginger Ward was the winner, and Susan Sweatman took Division B, while Linde Pavlik placed as the Division C winner. All will have the chance to go to the national tournament in August to be held in Cincinnati, Ohio. If for any reason the winner cannot attend, the second-place finisher in that division will be invited.

The 50/50 raffle separately supporting the state and local scholarships for graduating seniors did better than usual. The state officials were pleased to hear they would take all of the $634 reported, rather than half as they had assumed. The local bowling scholarship committee will consider high school senior applicants to receive the $634 raised thus far by the Thompson Falls Bowling Congress. Ward noted that, true to good bowling form, 50/50 raffle winners donated all or a portion of their winnings back to the scholarship efforts.

While winners from this year’s tournament look forward to the national level, the local chapter is looking ahead to be the location for future tournaments by submitting their application for consideration again. Next year’s state event will be held in Forsyth, then Cut Bank, Miles City in 2021, and Hamilton in 2022.

“We’d love to take the 2023 opening,” shared Ward. “But if any of those locations drop out in the meantime, we may again see state bowlers here sooner than later.” Co-directors Ward and True thanked the many businesses, organizations and volunteers who helped make the month-long event a success. “We must also thank the community for living up to their great reputation, as all feedback from bowlers gave glowing reports of this town just like in 2014,” Ward shared.


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