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Rage Against the Machine

Cael Bohlen’s near-perfect 299 game helps Comets advance to state

Rage Against the Machine
Press photo by John Burbridge
The Charles City boys bowling team advanced to the State Championships with a Class 1A-District 1 title win on Wednesday. Pictured are Nathan Girkin, Landon Luft, Cael Bohlen, Kaleb Cotton, Dillon Ross and Koyer Kellogg with assistant coach Brady Girkin and head coach Doug Bohlen.

By John Burbridge

OELWEIN — Charles City head bowling coach Doug Bohlen was imploring “No … no …. no!” but his grandson wasn’t waiting any longer.

Cael Bohlen once again entered the 10th frame with a perfect game on the line. This time it was the second game of the individual round of Wednesday’s Class 1A-District 1 Boys Tournament.

But lane No. 4 at Viper Lanes sure wasn’t making it any easier for him.

Mechanical problems plagued the lane’s pinsetter throughout the tournament for the Comets, so it didn’t come much as a surprise that things would act up again when Bohlen stepped onto the approach.

“It was frustrating,” the Charles City junior said. “On our team, we preach concentration and focus so you try not to let things like that bother you.”

When the situation was finally rectified and the pinsetter belatedly put down a rack, Bohlen was ready to go … but maybe too soon. The setter wasn’t lifted clear from the pins and neither was the sweep before Bohlen’s ball had already crossed the line of arrows. The ball buried itself into the pocket for Bohlen’s 10th strike, but it wasn’t recorded by the automatic scorer.

Nonetheless, Bohlen got credit for the strike before throwing an 11th strike. For the attempt at the 12th for perfection (still had yet to be achieved by a Comet bowler), Bohlen had the experience of being here before but (alas) suffered the same fate.

“I came up stiff and the ball was a little too light in the pocket,” Bohlen said of leaving the 2-pin for his second career 299 game, which capped a 525 series earning him district individual honors.

Bohlen has taken a perfect game to the 10th frame numerous times in his career, but this was only the second time he was going for the 12th strike.

Last year, Bohlen’s previous 299 capped a 569 two-game series which remains the all-time high for the Comet program.

To note, other Comets bowled well as Viper Lanes on Wednesday, including junior Dillon Ross, who rolled a 407 two-game series, followed scorewise by junior Landon Luft (403), junior Kaleb Cotton (394), senior Nathan Girkin (369) and senior Koyer Kellogg, whose 361 which included a 201 latter game was marked off.

Going into the Baker Rotation round up by 88 pins over nearest competitor Tripoli, the Comets went on to keep the Panthers in the rearview mirror with a five-game Baker total of 969 while winning the district meet with an overall total of 3,067.

Tripoli was second with an overall total of 2,935.

Oelwein, Sumner-Fredericksburg, Denver and Waukon respectively rounded out the 3rd- through 6th-place placings.

The district win advances the Comets to the Class 1A State Bowling Championships, to take place next Wednesday (Feb. 24) starting at 2:30 p.m. at Cadillac XBC in Waterloo. Last year at state at the same house, Charles City’s boys placed third as a team with Bohlen placing second as an individual.

“It’s getting tougher to get down (to state),” said Doug Bohlen, whose boys and girls team are regular state tourney participants. “The bowling in this area has really picked up.”

Rage Against the Machine
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City’s Cael Bohlen reacts to a fortuitous pinfall in the sixth frame of the second individual round game of Wednesday’s Class 1A-District 1 Boys Bowling Tournament. It was only break Bohlen got during his 299 game, which helped him and his team win district titles.