Splits, spares and strikes: Negaunee residents Burdick, Windahl back on 300 wagon

Apparently, Doug Kaleva broke open the dam for U.S. Bowling Congress award scores at Country Lanes in Ishpeming two weeks ago.

A week after the Republic resident shot his first-ever 300 at age 64, the two most prolific big-score shooters added their names to the list a day apart.

I doubt, though, they needed anybody to lead the way in the 300 parade, knowing these guys.

Last week, Rod Burdick shot 300 in the Tuesday Miller Genuine Draft Major League, then a night later, Steve Windahl added a perfect game as part of an 823 series in the Wednesday Country Trio loop.

Before I get into the details, I have to make apologies to Justin Stephens, who should join them, or better yet, go to the top of the class in the “prolific” category if you’re talking about the last five or 10 years.

But at age 47, both Burdick and Windahl have a dozen years on their fellow Negaunee resident, and hence, a few more 300s and 800s.

Burdick got his 300 while finishing a 744 series to give him – get this – 55 career perfect games. That’s like 18 weeks, plus a game in the 19th, worth of nothing but strikes if you were bowling a single three-game series once a week.

His opened last week with 198 and 246, with most of the difference between those games and the final one his ability to convert strikes on good pocket hits.

“I changed my speed slightly and my angle slightly for the last game,” Burdick said.

This was his third 300 since moving to Marquette County about five years ago after living in Dickinson County for around 20 years.

Actually, though, Burdick is just grateful to bowl any kind of score with his 15-pound Track 716C reactive resin ball.

“I hadn’t touched a ball in over five months, since I didn’t bowl the last six weeks of last season,” he told me over the weekend. “I have a lot of thumb issues, and I was told it was tendon and ligament damage.”

He decided to forgo surgery, hoping rest would help heal it.

“It’s definitely better,” Burdick said about bowling for the second time this season. “It’s the first time I’ve bowled pain-free in a couple years.”

Between himself and his doctor, they figure all the bowling he’s done over the years may have contributed to the damage to his right thumb.

“At one time when I was in my 20s, I was probably throwing 50 games a week,” Burdick said.

Now he’s crossing his fingers – and not using his thumb while doing it – in hopes he can continue to bowl regularly without pain again.

Windahl, meanwhile, has just been a busy man for awhile and says he can barely fit one night of bowling in per week, since he’s had at least one son playing high school sports, along with coaching the Ishpeming-Negaunee high school bowling team and keeping up with his regular job.

But he hasn’t lost his competitive streak.

“I still get that rush of adrenaline when I’m going for a big score,” said Windahl, who now counts 27 sanctioned 300s and 22 800s on his resume.

With games of 300, 266 and 257, the righthander actually opened the night with 21 straight strikes before an odd 7-9 split on his first shot in the 10th frame stopped a bid for back-to-back 300s.

“I don’t remember leaving that more than two or three times in my life,” he told me while waiting for the start of his son Tyler’s Negaunee High School varsity football game on Friday night.

Windahl, whose all-time area record series of 857 was just broken by Stephens’ 862 in late April, used a 15-pound Storm Cell reactive resin ball this time for what my records indicate is a tie for his personal fourth-highest series.

Finally, he said the big set was a birthday present for – or maybe from? – Hope Pool, who was watching her husband Andy and father-in-law Chuck bowl that night.

“I guess the luck came my way instead of for Andy,” he laughed.