by Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned high-scoring shootout between two bowlers.
Sometimes, it happens with a teammate and sometimes it happens against a member of an opposing team.
Four years ago, Mike Weekley and Bill Plummer engaged in a high-energy, spirited duel on Lanes 1 and 2 at AMF Woodlake Lanes in Woodland Hills. The two good friends were on opposing league teams and the left-handed Plummer kept pushing Weekley by nailing nine straight strikes en route to a powerful 269. The right-handed Weekley didn’t blink and matched Plummer strike for strike and then some . . . finishing with a 300.
Then there was a Battle Royale last month in Winnetka Bowl’s Mixed Classic Handicap league.
This time the two gun-slinging bowlers – Johnnie Englehart and Karl Kurtz – were from the same five-man team. Englehart bowls fourth on the team; Kurtz is the anchor. The two were crushing it in Game 1 and Englehart won the strike-filled battle, 279-278. Game 2 was won by Englehart, 259-242.
The finale was a show-stopper. The two rolled strikes in the first frame and Englehart opened in the second frame after a split. Kurtz, who averages 226, spared in the second frame. “Now, it’s on,” recalled Englehart, who averages 232. The two kept matching strikes . . . nine straight for both. Englehart finished with his 10th strike in a row on his final shot to finish with a 266 and 814 series. It was Englehart’s 68th 800 series.
Kurtz, needing a strike on his last ball for an 800 series, rolled his shot through the nose and finished with an eight count and a 278 and 798 series.
“Very exciting for the onlookers as well as the players,” said Englehart about the barrage of strikes between teammates. “I can vouch for that.”
Surprisingly, Kurtz said he was not dueling Englehart during the series; he was just bowling his regular game. Kurtz said that Englehart’s sizzling effort was not a motivator for him to keep piling up strikes.
“You do get enthused, but you don’t want to go too crazy,” Kurtz said. “That would throw you off your game. I’m looking at the team totals.” Kurtz said he and Englehart have been bowling on the same team for about 20 years. “Sometimes we look at the set [at the end of the night] and we’re within 20 pins,” Kurtz said.
The wild night didn’t stop with the Englehart-Kurtz shoot-out. As Englehart was preparing for the 10th frame, two other league bowlers were enjoying a memorable night. Kevin Gross finished with a perfect game. And Tom Everitt nailed a perfect game as well. Gross is averaging 236, Everitt 234.