Janesville74.3°

Blind bowlers converge on Janesville for tournament

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Catherine W. Idzerda
March 14, 2009
— Rick Jorgensen stood in the lane, wriggled his bowling shoes to get the right angle and then started his approach.

The ball left his body with a kind of flowing jump that wasn’t always elegant but got the job done with another spare—and then another.


Jorgensen, Chicago, was one of 261 bowlers visiting Janesville for the 52nd annual Midwest Blind Bowling Tournament at RiversEdge Bowl, 215 S. River St. Other events will be held at Diamond Lanes in Beloit.


The Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau estimated that the three-day event will result in $110,250 being spent at Janesville restaurants, hotels and retailers.


The event, which will go on throughout the weekend, features blind, partially sighted and sighted bowlers from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri and Michigan. Janesville was represented by members of the Rock County Railers.


Blind and partially sighted bowlers played next to sighted bowlers who gave them feedback and information about their shots.


Jorgensen, who is completely blind, bowled with Evell Jones, who is legally blind. They were two of the best at the competition. The pair bowled with Jorgensen’s father, Rich Jorgensen, and his brother-in-law Rich Zwolinski.


After Rick Jorgensen delivered the ball, his brother-in-law would bark out the results: “Right center heavy, just the six!” or “Brooklyn heavy, just the three!”


“Brooklyn” refers to a ball that passes over the gap between the one and three pins.


Jorgensen, who has been bowling for about 25 years, said he developed a technique that allows him to aim for the third arrow each time and then “make adjustments,” based on the lane. His best game was a 186, and his averages range between 114 and 126.


“For years I was bowling an average of 90 to 100,” Jorgensen said. “It wasn’t until I quit baseball that I really got serious about bowling.”


Baseball?


“I played beeper ball,” Jorgensen said. “But you get to old for all that.”


Beeper ball is played with a ball that makes noise. It requires fast mental processing and even faster reflexes.


Jones, also of Chicago, has bowled a 300 in both a sighted league and a blind league.


“I can see shadows,” Jones said. “After a while, you start to get a feel for the game.”


Down at the other end of the building, Janesville bowlers were just getting into the groove of their games.


Jennifer Thompson kept wondering what she was doing wrong—things just weren’t going as well as they usually do.


“I think I’m crossing over,” Thompson said, gesturing with their arms.


Todd Roepke was firing lightening curve balls down the lane. In the first round however, he only threw a disappointing 49.


“I’m just getting primed up,” Roepke said with a sheepish grin. “I’ll do better as we go along.”



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