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Bowling: Fall league season has finally arrived

Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune  

Post-Tribune sports writer Steve Gorches

Jeffrey D. Nicholls/Post-Tribune Post-Tribune sports writer Steve Gorches

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Updated: September 29, 2013 6:55AM



It’s late August and that means the new league bowling season is upon us. And that means changes across the region, most good, some not so good … at least for the moment.

Bad news first: Several league bowlers at the former Westchester Lanes in Chesterton had to find a new place to congregate with friends after the 16-lane center almost closed during the summer. Instead, it was sold to Seven Peaks, the entity that owns Seven Peaks Waterpark (formerly Splash Down Dunes) on U.S. 20 in Porter.

The general manager of the waterpark said the company would keep the former Westchester a bowling center, but with a more family-oriented environment. That means no bar and very few, if any, adult leagues. It also means the house will likely not host the Lakeshore Association Tournament in the foreseeable future since it won’t be open on Sundays, in addition to no lounge (the ownership group is Mormon and doesn’t have businesses open on Sundays).

The good news is a bowling center was saved, and it could still host high school bowling and sponsor Chesterton High School’s teams. At least it should sponsor the kids … or else (just ask Inman’s what it’s like to stop sponsoring a high school team and feel my wrath).

And most of the lost league bowlers are probably bowling somewhere nearby in the same association, which is a good thing, too.

But looking across the region, bowling is surviving and even thriving at some centers.

Ray’s Lanes in Lake Station has brought back its Saturday mixed league after a one-year hiatus. There are 14 teams signed up for the league that starts Sept. 7, so there’s room for a couple more teams.

It’s always a good thing to take a night void of league play and fill it back up.

Stardust Bowl III has a Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks triples league on Sunday nights starting Sept. 29 for a shorter 25-week league (every member gets tickets to watch the greatest hockey team in the world in March at the United Center). But the teams also get prize money with first place $1,000 guaranteed.

Stardust III’s Wednesday men’s league has increased by a few teams.

At Olympia Lanes in Hammond, there hasn’t been a significant increase in teams.

“For every league we gained a team or two, we lost a team or two in others … so I think we’ll be even,” Olympia general manager Mike Kozy said.

But the 40-lane center does have a new lane oiling machine — the Cadillac of oil machines. It’s the Brunswick Envoy, and they’re the only Northwest Indiana center with the machine similar to what the Professional Bowlers Association uses each week.

“It oils board by board and measures by units, not loads like most machines,” Kozy said.

Hobart Lanes is trying a new sport shots singles league on Wednesday nights similar to the successful Tuesday night league in the summer.

And Plaza Lanes in Highland has a new pro shop as Galka’s closed its standalone business in Dyer (as well as its shop inside Wheatfield Lanes) and moved inside the 60-lane center on Kennedy Ave. It’s definitely a better location than either of the previous two locations from a customer standpoint, which means it’s good for Galka’s.

There will also be changes to the annual Post-Tribune tourneys, which start in October with the fourth P-T Sport Shot Classic on Oct. 20, then the following Sunday with the P-T Preseason High School Bowl O-Rama at Stardust II.

We’re in the process of streamlining the year-end events in May with announcements coming soon. But let’s just say they’re going to be open up to more bowlers, and might even have more money in them.



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