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'It's so much fun'; Local adaptive bowlers embracing the return of in-person state qualifying meet

State tournaments and qualifiers were moved online each of the last two seasons.

Adaptive Bowling
Bowlers from Moorhead, Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes, and East Grand Forks hit the lanes in Moorhead an MSHSL adaptive bowling state qualifier.
Zach Staton/WDAY Sports

MOORHEAD — There was not an open lane to be found at Sunset Lanes on Wednesday morning.

"It's really exciting," Fergus Falls seventh grader Lily Maanum said.

More than 50 athletes with disabilities from Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Detroit Lakes, and Fergus Falls returned to the lanes to bowl for a spot in the Minnesota State High School League's adaptive bowling state tournament.

For Moorhead's Zack Rinowski, there's nowhere else he wanted to be.

"I started in seventh grade, and this has been a life-change for me," the Spud sophomore said. "It gets me going. It gets me started where I want to bowl and have some fun."

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For most of the bowlers in Moorhead, this year is the first time they can say they've played in a section meet the way it should be.

That's because for the last two years, the state tournament and qualifiers were moved online.

"It didn't have the same energy and then it just didn't feel the same," Spuds head coach Heidi Fisher said. "Being down at state in Minneapolis is a big deal."

"It was weird," Rinowski said. "Just to have it online, it just felt weird."

They were able to get into the lanes as teams to turn in scores, but for the players and coaches, there's just something different about meeting new people.

"We got to bowl, which was really good. We could at least be together," Fisher said about the online tournaments. "But it just wasn't the same."

The return to in-person made the accomplishments a little sweeter.

Detroit Lakes' Abby Lipton celebrated her 100 with everyone she talked to.

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"My first time getting that," she said. "It's so much fun. I love playing bowling a lot."

Otter seventh grader Joe Polejewski noticed how much fun it was to bowl in front of other people again.

"It's insane with my friends," he said. "They cheer me on a lot. It's a lot of things that your friends do."

They all have different reasons for loving bowling.

"I get a lot of strikes and spares," Polejewski said. "Every time I bowl is perfect."

"I love going with my coach Cali (Harrier)," Lipton said about spending time with the Lakers head coach.

They all agree on one thing: being together to experience all those things, from the cheers to the strikes, is worth it.

"It took me back to having a nice relationship and a nice friendship," Rinowski said.

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The state adaptive bowling tournament is in Brooklyn Park on May 13.

Zach Staton joined WDAY as a sports reporter in 2018. He grew up in Salem, Virginia loving any sport he could play or watch. Staton graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in Communication Studies before getting his Master's in Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a Sports Communication Emphasis from Syracuse University.
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