Bowling: Mike Svilar shoots rare 300 at Set Em Up
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent January 22, 2013 9:28PM
Updated: February 24, 2013 6:40AM
When Munster’s Mike Svilar rolled a 300 in early December at Set Em Up Lanes in Griffith — just the third 300 game to be rolled at the cozy eight-lane center — Svilar said all 12 of his shots flowed effortlessly and went straight into the pocket.
But, as it turned out, Svilar didn’t even finish the night with a 700 series in the house that many a local bowler also knew as Bowl Arena before it was renamed.
“There was no luck (in the 300),” Svilar said. “All 12 shots were straight back, no doubt. After that, Set Em Up came back alive, and over the next 20 frames I had 11 10-pins as well as two nine-pins and a four-pin. I finished with a 693.
“After the third 10-pin, I knew I needed a ball change. I also moved in. I went from getting it out to 10 to getting it inside 10 and then trying to hit 15. Nothing I tried work the rest of the night.”
And, yet, even in the 300 game, Svilar admits that the lane conditions at Set Em Up don’t seem as challenging, to him, as they were even a year ago when he practiced there after a Wednesday night league.
“I came into this year fully expecting to be averaging between 185 and 195,” he said. “I’m averaging 225 right now.”
To Svilar, favorable or unfavorable lane conditions are not factoring into the fun that he’s having in a league and house that best resembles his ideal definition of league bowling.
“This is a fun league and house to bowl at,” he said. “This is what bowing should be like. Nobody is out here trying to shoot a 300. If you shoot a 279, you might lose the handicap pot, but you don’t get mad about it because you had the high game in the house.
“You’re not bowling at (Stardust II in) Merrillville and Plaza (Lanes in Highland) where you feel bad about shooting an 800 series and never winning a game,” Svilar said.
Svilar, though, has won his share of those, too — especially in the first half of last season’s Friday Men’s Memorial League at Plaza, where he averaged 240 in the first 30 games. He also averaged a 204 last year in the tough Tuesday Olympia Majors league.
“I just had a horrible second half and finished with a 224 (at Plaza),” he admitted. “I was throwing the ball well early on. I rolled an 801 series (with 300 game). I could do no wrong; it was a 720 or higher each week. Then I hit a bump. I had no carry and I couldn’t do anything right.”
Svilar said his grandfather Bob Svilar, stepfather Eugene McCune, John Riffle and Bob Kammer Jr., have impacted his game the most.
“Gene taught me the hard and straight and the hand position and where I should be,” he said. “Riffle taught me everything you shouldn’t do, but it works. There are times where John can do things with the bowling ball that no one else can do at that time, and he’ll kill you on the lanes. And Bob is the king of the fade; you’ll never beat him.
“I’ve tried to emulate the best around. In my eyes, it’s Bob, Gene and Johnny. There’s no line those guys can’t play.”
But Svilar has something none of them have — a 300 at the eight-lane house in downtown Griffith.