Janesville Senior Mixed League at RiversEdge offers competition, camaraderie
JANESVILLE Every Monday afternoon, 96 bowlers and substitutes from 55 to 90 years old fill all 24 lanes at RiversEdge Bowl to participate in the biggest league in town.
The Senior Mixed League attracts sharp veteran bowlers from Karl Wickingson and his wife, Geri, to Janesville Hall of Famers Jerry McCarthy and Ray Huntoon to 4 foot, 5-inch, 74-year-old league secretary Shirley Harrie.
“I’ve been bowling in this league since I was 55,” said Harrie, who holds a 149 average. “I love it.’’
Karl Wickingson, 65, leads the league with a 221 average. Huntoon, 63, follows at 219, and McCarthy, 75, is third at 215.
Huntoon rolled his first career 800 series—posting games of 269, 279, 258 for an 806—on Dec. 12. McCarthy has been hot, rolling three 700s in the past five weeks.
Based on the threesome’s numbers, it seems the emphasis is on competition, but Huntoon said the league’s relaxed atmosphere is its key to success.
“It seems to be,” Huntoon said of the camaraderie between bowlers. “I seem to be bowling better there.”
Besides his 806, Huntoon has rolled a pair of 300s and two 299s since he began bowling with the seniors. Huntoon said he seems to have a better edge on Mondays.
“I have a little bit higher average in that league than in others,” Huntoon added. “Maybe it’s getting to start fresh on Monday.’’
Huntoon’s son, Brad, may have sparked his father to his first 800 after rolling his first 700 series—a 743 (232, 256, 235)—on Dec. 1 in the Wednesday Independent League. Brad was bowler of the week of Dec. 4-10 for bowling 192 pins over his average.
“He pulled in my driveway, and I knew right away,” Ray said of learning of his son’s first 700. “I said, ‘What did you get, a 700?’ He was just thrilled.’’
Wickingson’s wife, Geri, recruited him for the league.
“She is one of the better women bowlers,” said Karl, who recently rolled a record 279 triplicate series in the Saturday Night Couples League at RiversEdge.
“It’s fun,” Wickingson said. “Me and Tom Westcott, my wife and Ray (Huntoon), we have fun. We are not in our 30s, not like (RiversEdge managers) Jamie (Jones) or Chris (Jones), but we’ve got guys like Jerry McCarthy whose in his 70s bowling 700s.’’
The Wickingsons, Wescott and Huntoon—The Fab 4—combined to post a 1,025 team series to top the league with Huntoon’s 806 leading the way. But the bottom line for Wickingson is more than big numbers.
“I enjoy the league,” Wickingson said. “It’s a chance to bowl with my wife.’’
McCarthy, 75, has been a leading senior bowler, posting 774, 779 and 712 in recent weeks. The bowlers turn to McCarthy for advice.
“I like to coach,” said McCarthy, who has rolled 13 300s. “People ask for advice, and I enjoy giving it.’’
McCarthy said the seniors league offers competitive bowling, but with a good deal of friendship in the mix.
“This is just fun,” said McCarthy, adding that the competition is good, as well. “There are some good bowlers here, too.’’
Competing against Huntoon and Karl Wickingson is the only part of the attraction for McCarthy.
“These people are just great,” McCarthy said. “We’re all older people. I think we all fought our battles and raised our kids, and now we all just come down and have a good time.’’