Bowling in Kokomo -- 1975 to 1980


This month Bowling History covers the Kokomo bowling scene from 1975 through the completion of the 1979-80 season. This time period saw scores go through the roof! The scoring blitz started with the 1976-77 season. This era saw over 100 games higher than 270. There were five 299 games and eight sanctioned 300 games. Series over 700 erupted to record levels. There were almost 200 documented 700 series. The first 800 series was shot. Everyone was having so much fun! Bowling participation reached its peak.


High Games

There were many close attempts at perfect games with almost as many reaching the milestone in this five-year period alone as had reached it in the prior 40 years!

Shown below are the bowlers rolling games of 270 or above.

270 - Tom Dinwiddie, Dave McDorman
272 - Rick Kelley
273 - Tom Ayres
274 - Jack Currens, Dick Johnson
275 - Dan Preston* (twice), Larry Hite, Mike Cornwell, Tim Gerstorff, Ted Wooley, Ed Horlacher, Larry Wolford
276 - Mark Snodgrass, Jerry Mason, Steve Ballew, Dan Preston (twice), Jim Dick, Ron Patton, Gary Quinnette, John Roush, Tom Arnett
277 - Wilbur Slabaugh, Joe Taboas, John York, Ken Gleason, Ted Wooley, Chuck Smith, Jim Huffer, Jim Mulkey, Bob Linzey, Brent Foster, Kent Love, Gerry Simpson
278 - Robert Stanley, Jim Farrington*, Brent Foster, Fred Gross (twice), Kenny Rutherford, Barry Colter, Wayne Kitts, John Wicken, Ralph Wiley, Larry Retherford, Ed Gray, Ed Martin (twice), Encil Trueblood, Jim Cumbee, Bob Belt, Max Snodgrass, Jerry Rosselot, Steve Preston
279 - Steve Preston (three times), Mark Snodgrass (twice), Joe Taboas (twice), Ted Wooley (twice), Dan Preston (twice), Ed Martin (twice), Jay Lawrence (twice), Lou Wenisch, Bob Robey, Clancy Clary, John Spencer, William Sewell, Bob Moore, Ron Wolford, Tim Winchester, Roland Hint, Rick Kelley, Larry Retherford

Those names with asterisks were known to have had the first nine strikes. Many more probably did also.

Those with 280 games and higher are listed below.

280 - Steve Preston (twice), Jim DeSchamps
284 - Chuck Smith
286 - Jim Robison*, Jerry Basham, Gerry Simpson
287 - Tom Thieke
288 - Jerry Mason, Tom Ayres, Steve Ballew*, Wayne Hancock, Floyd Russell, Jay Lawrence
289 - Dick Martin, Bob Cottingham, Rick Kelley, Mike Hileski, Tex Thornton, Ted Wooley, Bob Dodrill, Steve Bain

Those names with asterisks above were identified as having the first 10 strikes. Some of the others may have also.

Those with games of at least 290 are shown next.

290 - Mike Evans, Ted Wooley, Wayne Hancock, Dick Stanley
296 - Smith Hopkins, Ron Quinnette
297 - Tim Winchester, Mitch Pierce
299 - Carl Babb (twice), Fred Rutherford, Tom Ayres, Larry Richards

Mike Evans' game is especially notable. Evans, rolling in the Wednesday morning Chrysler league opened the last game of his series with a gutter ball. He proceeded to knock down all ten pins on his next 12 balls for his highly unusual 290 game!

Quinnette's 296 game was rolled in the Kokomo Classic League. Unfortunately for him, his opponent that night was Steve Preston. Quinnette lost his match game point as Preston rolled a 300.

Perfect games recorded in this time period are shown below.

Larry Retherford - 1/18/78
Dan Gibson - 4/2/78 - First ever in KBA City Tournament play
Dan Gibson - 10/22/78 - First with two perfect games in a calendar year
Kenny Rutherford - 11/21/78
Alan Anderson - 6/17/79
Steve Preston - 10/11/79
Dan Preston - 12/30/79 - First ever at Astro Bowl and last of the decade
Jay Lawrence - 3/17/80 - First to roll a 300 and 800 in the same season
Jim Huffer also rolled a 300 game in practice while preparing to roll in the Delco Classic League. He continued his hot shooting with a 729 series once the league started.


High Series

There were about double the number of 700 series shot in this five-year period alone as were ever shot in Kokomo since bowling started. For the 1979-80 season alone, there were 78 series of 700 or higher. This is about the same number shot in the first 60 years of bowling in Kokomo. Four bowlers accounted for over one-half of the 700 series.

Ed Martin was the first bowler to shatter the 800 barrier with his 813 series rolled on April 2, 1979.

Bowlers rolling at least 725 are listed below in order of their highest series. All 700 series may not have been recorded in the paper.

Jay Lawrence - 814
Ed Martin - 813, 774, 749, 748, 744
Ted Wooley - 790, 776, 747, 733, 730, 729
Chuck Smith - 778, 747, 728
Steve Preston - 772, 764, 764, 758, 751, 747, 740, 740, 733
Larry Retherford - 763, 744, 743, 732
Gerry Simpson - 763
Carl Babb - 760, 735, 732
Joe Taboas - 759, 730
Tim Winchester - 755
Dan Preston - 748, 747, 740, 731, 726
Tom Thieke - 747
Dick Stanley - 746
Myron Bruce - 744
Jim Walters - 744
Rick Kelley - 740
Larry Richards - 738
Jerry Rosselot - 736, 734
Dick Johnson - 735
Steve Ballew - 734
Jack Currens - 734
Tim Gerstorff - 734
Tom Ayres - 732
Jerry Mason - 731
Jim Cumbee - 730
Jim Deschamps - 729
Jim Huffer - 729
Encil Trueblood - 729
Bill Jewell - 729
Ed Ellabarger - 728
Floyd Russell - 726
Cecil Moss - 726
Fred Gross - 725

Shown below are the number of 700 series rolled by each bowler.

27 - Steve Preston
15 - Ed Martin
14 - Dan Preston, Ted Wooley
8 - Carl Babb
6 - Larry Retherford
5 - Chuck Smith, Joe Taboas, Rick Kelley,
3 - Larry Richards, Jerry Rosselot, Jim DeSchamps
2 - Jay Lawrence, Gerry Simpson, Floyd Russell, Fred Gross, Brent Foster, Mark Snodgrass, Mike Kirk, Dick Martin, Larry Hite, Jack Malson, Lou Wenisch, Anthony Patton, Jim Robison
1 - Tim Winchester, Tom Thieke, Dick Stanley, Myron Bruce, Jim Walters, Dick Johnson, Steve Ballew, Jack Currens, Tim Gerstorff, Tom Ayres, Jerry Mason, Jim Cumbee, Jim Huffer, Encil Trueblood, Bill Jewell, Ed Ellabarger, Cecil Moss, Ron Coburn, Dick Tew, Jim Farrington, Ron Patton, Jon Kaelin, Kevin Robertson, Smith Hopkins, Ralph Wiley, Tom Arnett, Waid Hornbuckle, Alan Anderson, Bob Shelly, Art Barnard, John Spencer, Bill Carpenter, Paul Martin, Mike Cornwell, Ross Pearson, Jim Mulkey, Ed Gray, Jerry Wilburn, Don Cravens, Gary Mock, John York, Max Snodgrass

Several of these scores were notable for other reasons.

Chuck Smith rolled a 778 on October 5, 1978 to set the city record breaking Don Johnsor's record of 771 set in 1962. Ted Wooley raised the mark only two months later to 790. Four months later Ed Martin raised the bar over the 800 plateau with his 813. Jay Lawrence nudged the record to 814 only nine months after Martin. The current city record of 856 was set one year later by Dan Preston.

Lawrence's record is even more remarkable considering he had never rolled a 700 before.

Chuck Smith's 747 set an Astro Bowl house record at the time. Gerry Simpson's 763 toppled Smith's record. Ed Martin's 774 topped Simpson.

Dick Tew's series of 720 was the first ever 700 by a Kokomo youth. The 17 year-old Tew rolled his record setter in December 1975.

Brent Foster's 702 series consisted of three straight 234 games! This set a Kokomo record for the highest triplicate series at the time.

Don Lowry correctly recognized Steve Preston's talent. Lowry was quoted as saying "He is a young an up-and-coming bowler. He may rank among the best Kokomo has ever seen!" An example of Steve Preston's domination of the local bowling scene was that he accounted for 17 of the 58 series over 700 with two months left in the 1980-81 season!


State Tournament

There were some notable State Tournament performances by Kokomo bowlers during this time period.

In the 1977 State Tournament in Anderson, Clifton "Bunk" DeWitt and Jim DeWitt finished 24th in doubles handicap with their 1327 score. Bunk also finished 41st in all-events actual with 1809. Ed Martin was not far behind with his 1751.

Loren Guge continued Kokomo's active involvement in the state bowling circle as he served as the Indiana Bowling Association President for the 1976-77 season.


City Tournament

The biggest news in the City Tournament was the rolling of its first perfect 300 game. This feat was accomplished by Dan Gibson.


Other Tournaments

Kokomo continued to host a variety of tournaments. The General Motors of Indiana Bowling Association Tournament was conducted at Cedar Crest Lanes in 1977. In that tournament, Delco Electronics was well represented in the top positions. The Regulators and Guzzlers finished in second and fifth place in team handicap, respectively. In doubles actual, Joe Sallee and Tom Dinwiddie finished in third with 1205. Dick Stanley and Lou Wenisch were fourth with 1196. Wayne Kitts and Elmer Lewis were fifth with 1194. Rex Hardesty and Jerry Niles finished third in doubles handicap with 1302. Tom Parkhurst's 642 finished third in singles actual. Randy Dodrill's score of 1773 was good enough to finish fifth in all-events actual. Finally, Rex Hardesty finished third in all-events handicap with 1926.


PBA Tour

Don Johnson was inducted into the Professional Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 1977.

Ed Martin, Steve Preston and Dan Preston turned professional and gave the pro tour a shot. Steve Preston had the most success with top finishes of 4th, 6th and 7th places for his career.


Center History

In May 1976, Don Lowry announced that he was building Don Lowry Lanes on Lincoln Road and would close down Play Bowl. About one week later, an article and advertisement appeared in the newspaper announcing that Gemini Bowl would open the first of October. This 40-lane facility was to be located at Center Road and US 31. Of course we know that this center was never built. However, two years later, in October 1978, Astro Bowl III opened which added 40 lanes for Kokomo's bowlers. Astro Bowl was the first center in Kokomo to feature automatic scoring.


Other Highlights

The Indiana All-Stars organization was active. This group conducted tournaments around the state. Many Kokomo bowlers participated including Tom Ayres, who won the event at Cedar Crest, and Jerry Rosselot.

Don Lowry was the Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA) youth bowling committee chairman. His conception started the National Family Twosome Tournament which was first held in Washington DC in 1976. This tournament is still going strong today. In February 1977, Lowry was awarded BPAA's President's Medal for his outstanding contributions.

In 1976, the Kokomo Tribune bowling honor roll listed men's games of 225 and higher and women's games of 200 or higher. If the same scores were used today, we would need an entire page to recognize high games!

In April 1977, Haworth High School organized a high school bowling club under the direction of French teacher Malinda Grant. This first for Howard County consisted of eight 3-bowler teams. Dennis Branch led the club with a fine 173 average.

Chris MacNeil wrote the Tribune bowling column for the 1977-78 season. Gary Corsair took over the column for one year at which time MacNeil resumed his authorship.

Kathy Mason and Bryan Frank won the State YBA doubles with a handicap score of 1326.

The big money "Big Payoff" league was organized at Cedar Crest for the 1979-80 season. Team averages were required to be in the 800 to 850 range. The league featured a $5000 first place team prize!

Everette Quinnette rolled a 620 series at the age of 70 years. Three generations of Quinnette's rolled together on the same team. Everette's son Ron and his son Gary demonstrated why bowling is a family sport.

The KBA high team game record was eclipsed by Honda of Kokomo. Contributing to their score of 1181 were Joe Taboas (259), Ron Patton (257), Ken Boe (255), Larry Retherford (241) and Jerry Rosselot (169).

Fletcher's Steak House set the KBA team series record with a score of 3318 in March 1980. Team members and their scores were Ed Martin (774), Larry Retherford (682), Dick Martin (672), Floyd Wooley (597) and Art Bassett (593).

Some of the top junior bowlers of this time period were Mike Butler, Jody Belt, Jeanette Hensel, Tim Winchester and Steve Kitts. Hensell was the 1978 State YBA champ with her score of 1036 over six games.


Women's Bowling in Kokomo – 1975 to 1980


The women were also shooting record scores. For the 1979-80 season, there were 139 series of 600 or higher. Shown below are the women shooting scores of 650 or higher.

Women's High Series

Judy Belt - 726, 682, 679, 673, 673, 672, 671, 669, 669, 661, 658, 657, 657, 655, 654, 652, 652, 651
Betty Malson - 725, 682, 658, 655, 652, 651, 650
Jerry Ohlmacher - 714, 675
Sandy Shuck - 679, 652, 651
Diana Preston - 676, 654
Rosie Currens - 668
Evelyn Wenisch - 657
Sharon Sue Wilcox - 654
Peg Hawkins - 653
Sue Dick - 653
Jeniece Kasey - 652
Barbara Hamilton - 652
Barb Puckett - 652
Ruth Buchanan - 651

As you can see from the above list, the dominating force in local women's bowling was Judy Belt. She recorded more than 100 series over 600. She averaged in the low 180's during this time period. Betty Malson also had a great five years. Shown below are the number of 600 series recorded by each bowler.

112 - Judy Belt
33 - Sandy Shuck
32 - Betty Malson
17 - Jeniece Kasey
11 - Jerry Ohlemacher
10 - Sue Dick
9 - Joan Miller, Jeri Flowers
8 - Ida Reel
7 - Barbara Brown
6 - Ruth Buchanan
5 - Rosie Currens, Jan Witham, Lori Parnell, Bev Huff, Audrey Mertens, Jeanette Hensel, Charlene Browning
4 - Peg Hawkins
3 - Carol Noland, Barbara Hamilton, Earlene Fawcett, Sue Hight, Suzy Phillips, Annie Phipps, Diana Preston
2 - Penny Locke, Evelyn Wenisch, Cindy Steen, Cheryl McDaniel, Linda Hulva, Barb Puckett, Nancy Turnbull, Joyce Higginbottom, Connie Schwartz, Donna Pickett, Natalie Cardwell, Sue Thornton, Lois Moss, Jan Turner, Jan Haffley, Hilda Ashcraft, Sue Wilcox
1 - Daisy Strange, Karen Moyer, Jane Baker, Barbara Roberts, Cathy Hamilton, Nancy Johnson, Lou Brown, Vicki Riddle, Patty Geary, Duggie McCoy, Joyce Dennis, Rosie Newton, Jan Hoover, Linda Dodrill, Roberta Smith, Pam Deck, Kathy Goudy, Vada Soots, Mary Lee, Carol Fernandes, Eileen Pore, Susie Gaither, Tonita Conwell, Elvetta Pristach, Cindy Garro, Gloria York, Eve Gagnon, Pam Browning, Ferol Stahl, Joan Snodgrass, Rosie Harding, Maxine Krise, Shirley Smith, Barbara DeShon, Wanetta Martin, Goldie Frankenfield, Virginia Mumaw, Judy Wylie, Alice Baldwin, Bev Elrod, Debbie Blakely, Chris Pheanis, Jeanne Mueller, Kathy Simpson, Mary Heathcoat, Burma Moss, Wanita Carson, Jody Belt (Junior Bowler)

Jerry Ohlemacher's 714 series was only the third ever for a Kokomo woman and was only four pins from Peg Hawkins' record of 718 set in 1959. Her feat was similar to Jay Lawence's feat for the men. Ohlemacher had recorded her 700 series before she ever rolled a 600 series!

Betty Malson's 725 broke the high series record set almost 20 years earlier. But her new record did not last very long. Only one month later, Judy Belt edged out Malson's record by a single pin!


Women's High Games

High games for this era are listed below.

287 - Sandy Shuck
277 - Bev Elrod
276 - Dorothy Winner
275 - Judy Belt
269 - Judy Belt
268 - Betty Malson, Jerri Ohlemacher
267 - Rosie Currens (twice), Virginia Mumaw (twice), Betty Malson, Cal Cron, Linda Hulva, Judy Belt
266 - Judy Belt
264 - Jeanette Hensel

Other Women's Highlights

In the 1975 Hoinke Tournament in Cincinnati, Audrey Mertens and Cindy Steen captured first place in doubles handicap to take the $500 first place prize.

It was a mother and daughter act in the 1978 City Tournament. Jan Witham won the singles actual and handicap with scores of 636 and 699, respectively. Daughter Judy Belt won the all-events actual with her 1700 score.

In September 1978, the Wholesale Electric team set a KWBA team series record while rolling in the Ladies Classic League at Cedar Crest. The record score of 2867 was rolled by Rosie Currens (668), Jeniece Kasey (590), Peg Hawkins (575), Barbara Brown (544) and Joyce Higginbottom (490).

Their record was beaten by the tough Bowden's Flowers team twice later that season. This team was another first for Kokomo. During that inaugural Astro Bowl season the top-notch women's Bowden Flowers team entered the Astro Bowl III Classic League to compete against the men. The league rules had to be modified for this to occur. The six-team league only lasted one year. Bowden Flowers set KWBA series records on consecutive weeks.

First they shot a record 2873 series. Judy Belt led the team with her 658 and was supported by Rosie Currens (582), Betty Malson (576), Sandy Shuck (540) and Jeniece Kasey (517). One week later they raised the record almost 100 pins! This time the team was led by Malson (652) and backed up by Kasey (622), Shuck (601), Currens (558) and Belt (534).

Four of these bowlers were also part of setting the KWBA single game record during that same week with their 1035. Leading the way was Hawkins (248) followed by Currens (217), Malson (215), Duggie McCoy (186) and Kasey (169).



That’s concludes the Bowling History column for this season. Please let me know if you have any photographs, interesting stories or topics that you would like to see for next year.