Gettel bowls her way to top competitionPublished 11:26am Monday, July 22, 2013
While throwing a few practice frames at Northern Aire Bowling Lanes Friday afternoon, Mary Gettel joked around with her coach, Luke Loeffler. She was carefree as most high school athletes are during the summer downtime, enjoying the game she loves.
Only days before, however, Gettel was staring down the lanes of the biggest competition she’s ever faced.
“I was nervous,” Gettel said. “I felt like I was about to faint I was so scared.”
Last week, Gettel competed in the country’s most prestigious and competitive youth bowling tournament in the country. Held in Detroit, Mich., the 2013 North Pointe Junior Gold tournament gathered the best young bowlers from across the country. Around 600 girls competed across the different age levels.
Gettel, a junior at the Fergus Falls High School, earned a spot in the competition when she won the Pepsi USBC tournament in Austin this May after one of the best performances in her life. Last week, she bowled 15 games in an attempt to qualify for the final round at the national event, but fell short against the highly competitive field.
Despite the outcome, Gettel said she enjoyed meeting other girls from around the country. She even snuck in a few hours of shopping, sight-seeing and stops at restaurants.
“It was fun,” she said. “It’s been the highlight of my summer, probably of my life. We’re looking now for other tournaments to hopefully qualify again next year.”
As the youngest bowler in her Under-20 division, the 16-year-old Gettel said she surprised many other competitors with her age. Faced with lanes oiled to professional levels, she hit a string of highs and lows in the tournament. Bowlers usually lose 20 pins off their average on the professional surfaces, Loeffler said.
“You’re going to have up days and down days,” Gettel said. “You have your on and off games, but it all comes back through.”
The experience was certainly not wasted, however. Gettel is focused on returning to next year’s event in Buffalo, N.Y. She will rely on the many years of practice she’s had since starting to bowl competitively in second grade.
She will also bowl for the high school team and spend most days at the bowling alley after school. Loeffler will be there along the way, for encouragement and to help get her to more tournaments across the region so she continues to compete against the best.
“Now she’s seen the high level of competition that’s out there, so we know what we need to shoot for,” Loeffler said. “It’s a positive even though it didn’t necessarily go as well score wise. It was just a great experience for her.”
Even while she continued to laugh during the afternoon practice Friday, concentration came over her face before each throw. It was a brief look into the continued determination she has to continue on as one of the best bowlers Fergus Falls has had.
“Nationals was definitely the hardest thing I had to bowl on,” she said. “It was a great opportunity for me to really see what’s out there. It gives me something to work towards.”