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Claire Girkin signs to bowl and golf for Luther College

Claire Girkin signs to bowl and golf for Luther College
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City senior Claire Girkin, pictured with Comet girls golf coach Eric Johanningmeier, left, and bowling coaches Doug Bohlen and Casey Brandau, signed her letter of intent to bowl and golf at Luther College last week.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — Have you heard of the guy who walks off the golf course while studying his 18-hole card and remarks, “This would be a good bowling score”?

Well, Claire Girkin is usually not “that guy” when it comes to comparing any likeness to her bowling and golf sums, nor does she plan to be one anytime soon.

Last week, the Charles City senior signed her letter of intent to continue her athletic career at Luther College based in Decorah.

In fact, Girkin has earned the rare distinction of advancing to the collegiate level in two sports — women’s bowling and women’s golf — for the NCAA Division III Norse.

“It was something I had always seen myself doing,” Girkin said of bowling and golfing in college, where she also plans to major in visual communications. “And I knew (Luther) would be a good place for it.”

Girkin may have had her mind “double-vision” focused on her future prospects, but her body presented physical challenges on both fronts. Also a softball pitcher, Girkin injured the right shoulder of her “power arm” before her junior school year requiring surgery. Nonetheless, Girkin made herself available for the bowling season while rolling rather competitively as a left-hander.

By the time the state tournament came around, Girkin’s shoulder recovered enough for her to bowl right-handed again and qualify as an individual, advancing as far as the semifinals.

Going into the subsequent golf season, Girkin still had to deal with recovery hardships while in transition to another sport. But with a career-low 18-hole 92 score at the Class 3A Region 4 Girls Golf Tournament in Manchester, Girkin became a multi-sport state-qualifier.

Resiliency is one reason Girkin is going to play two sports in college. Clutch shooting in both those sports is another.

On the last hole during last year’s golf regional and with a state berth on the line, Girkin deftly used her putter along the downhill fringe while attempting a 35-foot shot for birdie. The shot rimmed the hole while brushing up against the pole only to be sent back onto the green on a perpendicular path from which it was sent. Fortunately, the hole rejection didn’t leave a long putt for Girkin to clean up to make par for the state cut.

During the most recent Class 1A State Girls Bowling Individual Championships, Girkin picked up a 5-7 split late into her final game of the three-game preliminary round to help her advance to the top-eight single-elimination bracket.

There, Girkin continued to bowl well, starting out her quarterfinal game against St. Albert senior Georgie Bohnet with four strikes, and then later picking up a 4-5 split in the eighth frame with the contest still in the balance.

But Bohnet proved to be a buzzsaw as she finished the game with six strikes and an eight-count to advance to the semis with a 252-236 victory.

Girkin was awarded a fifth-place medal after a fourth-place showing the year before.

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