Bowler prepares for major tournaments: Years of hard work pay off, leading to tutelage by Team USA c

Bowler prepares for major tournaments: Years of hard work pay off, leading to tutelage by Team USA coach Michael Kruse, a 2000 Vermillion High School graduate, will spend part of his summer participating in three major bowling tournaments, as well as training with Team USA Coach Fred Borden. by M. Jill Karolevitz Swimming, softball, sun � high school graduates often have these on their minds when the caps, gowns and diplomas have been put away and summertime activities beckon.

Michael Kruse, a 2000 Vermillion High School graduate, however, has a different agenda. When he�s not working for Louie�s Carpet Cleaning, he�s mowing lawns. The jobs leave time for little else, but Michael is stretching his schedule to include his favorite sport � bowling.

Since the age of 5, Michael has been a league bowler and now, at 18, he�s reached a pinnacle year. This summer, he�ll participate in three major tournaments and train with Team USA Coach Fred Borden.

As a member of a traveling team from Sioux Falls, Michael competes in tournaments throughout the region, including South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa. He also bowls in Vermillion and throughout his experience at the lanes, Michael has earned several titles incuding Bowler of the Year for the last two years in Sioux Falls and South Dakota State Amateur Champion during a qualifying tournament for Team USA in Fargo, ND. Michael has also earned about $6,000 in scholarships. But there�s more than titles, trophies and monetary rewards involved. The chance to train for a day-and-a-half with Borden is an honor few young bowlers earn by chance.

�Fred Borden was the guest speaker for a bowling banquet and watched Michael bowl,� said Michael�s dad, Mike Kruse. �After that, he invited him for free lessons in Akron, OH.�

�He�s considered the best bowling coach in the world,� Michael said. �And along with the Olympics, Team USA travels to other international games to compete.�

Michael will work with Borden July 18-20, then it�s on to Milwaukee, WI, for a two-day international workshop tournament. The next stop is Las Vegas, NV, where Michael will bowl in the International Coca Cola Tournament. He is among South Dakota�s four young bowlers who qualified as winners in the state tournament in Rapid City in April. In Las Vegas, the top bowler could win a total of $7,000 in scholarships.

But after the Nevada trip, Michael still has more to bowl for � a total purse of $25,000 in scholarships in the Junior Youth Masters Tournament in Akron, OH. He bowled 264 and 253 at the state level to qualify.

The pace will be hectic, but Michael is looking forward to the challenges of the upcoming tournaments. He also has strong support from both his mom, Laurie, and the man who got him started in the sport � his dad.

�I bowl all the time,� Mike said. �We come from a bowling family and we do a lot of it. Bowling is a good social sport for anyone of any age. You don�t have to be the best at it to enjoy it, either.�

Michael, who bowls as a Youth Alliance Bowling Association member (amateur bowlers age 5 through 21), averaged 208 in his Vermillion league, 210 at Suburban Lanes in Sioux Falls and 198 at Sport Bowl in Sioux Falls this past season. He posted a high series of 755. But all those high numbers are the result of lots of practice.

�In the winter time I throw 50 to 75 games a week,� Michael said. �I work pretty hard at it, but not as much as I used to. In eighth-grade through my sophomore year, I bowled every day.�

Increased homework and his jobs have taken some of Michael�s practice time away, but he still bowls at least three times a week.

�I look forward to it,� he said. �I enjoy the traveling and meeting people.�

Michael has also been involved in other sports, but bowling is his passion.

�I was always in the middle of the pack with everything else,� he said. �But I�m good at bowling. It�s fun to excel at something, although I have had a great advantage with Dad coaching me. And I have yet to bowl a perfect game. I�ve reached 299, but not 300.�

This fall, Michael will attend Mankato State, which has a bowling team. Competition will take the college bowlers to several major events around the country, including Orlando, FL, St. Louis, MO, Chicago, IL and Detroit, MI. The team goal is to qualify for the National Collegiate Tournament.

And although it�s several years away, an after-college plan for Michael includes trying for Team USA or even going pro. In the meantime, Michael isn�t making any predictions for the future.

�I still have a lot to learn,� he said.

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