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New synthetic lanes at Comet Bowl may pave way for more CC state champions

New synthetic lanes at Comet Bowl may pave way for more CC state champions
Press photos by John Burbridge
Charles City junior Darian Hesse follows through on her first-ball attempt during a recent Comet practice at Comet Bowl.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — You’ve heard of these metaphors often uttered amidst sports talk. And probably too often.

Paving a New Road to State … Blazing Another Path to State … Taking a Road Less Traveled (to State).

But for the Charles City Comets, such platitudes have become more literal.

With new ownership at Comet Bowl, the home of the Charles City’s high school bowling program, the 18 wood-surface lanes have been replaced with Brunswick Anvilane synthetic lanes.

Though that may require some adjustments for longtime league bowlers and patrons of the 60-year-old-plus “house”, Comet head coach Doug Bohlen isn’t complaining.

“They should help us,” Bohlen said while noting that the same type of “hard” synthetic lanes are at Cadillac Bowl in Waterloo where the State Bowling Championships have been held as of late and where the Comets have traditionally bowled well.

“Like at Cadillac, we have marker boards,” Bohlen said while referring to the darkened slits 40 and 43 feet from the foul line. “They help bowlers track the breaking points on their first ball and make better adjustments.”

Though it remains to be seen if these new lanes help “blaze a path” for another Comet state champion — Macy Ross won the Class 1A girls title in 2016; Cael Bohlen, grandson of the coach, won the Class 1A boys title in 2021 — several award scores have been already rolled in adult league play at Comet Bowl into this relatively young fall-winter season.

Former Comet bowler Kaleb Ross, who was a volunteer assistant coach for the Comets last season, recently rolled a 300 several days after Todd Mathers recorded a three-game 808 series that included a 300 game.

Though the next 300 game bowled by a Comet in high school play will be the first one rolled — there have been several 299s — it’s not a matter of “if” but “when”. Smart money may be placed on returning junior and state-qualifier Keaton Ross.

“Keaton has been bowling the lights out,” Bohlen said of Ross, who was the Class 1A State Qualifier individual champion last season.

Other top returners for the Comet boys team include sophomores Sullivan Gerleman and Jayden Lopez, who was a missed corner-pin at the SQ from advancing to state.

“And we have some real promising freshmen,” Bohlen said of ace youth league bowlers Joey Robel and Noah White.

“We have a strong and talented boys team,” Bohlen said.

Though the numbers are down for the Comet girls team, it does return two state-qualifiers from last year. And one of them is back to bowling right-handed again.

While recovering from right-side shoulder surgery, current senior Claire Girkin bowled most of the season as a southpaw yet still remained one of the Comets’ top rollers.

Girkin returned to her right hand just in time for the postseason and eventually placed fourth at the Class 1A Individual State Tournament.

Returning junior Isabelle Crawford tied for fifth at individual state.

Other key returners for the Comet girls are junior Payton Hadley, who improved steadily throughout her first season of prep bowling; and senior Jenya Stevenson.

Presiding over the Charles City girls team this season is Casey Brandau, who has been recently hired as a student counselor by the Charles City School District.

“I’m excited,” Brandau said. “It’s my first job out of college and this is my first time as a coach.”

Though Brandau may be new to coaching, she’s not new to bowling as she comes from a noted bowling family which includes older brother Cody Brandau, who is one of the top league bowlers in the region.

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