USBC Women's Championships bowler still rolling at 91

    03/18/06

    United States

    National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev. - March 16 - July 2, 2006

    2006USBCWomensChampionshipLogo.jpg Dorothy Manker is beyond both septuagenarian and octogenarian status. At 91, the nonagenarian has been bowling for well over four decades. The Thayer, Mo., native and great-great-grandmother competed Friday in the United States Bowling Congress Women's Championships at the National Bowling Stadium, her fourth trip to the tournament.

    Undeterred by age, health woes or the pressures of long-distance travel, Manker arrived with her two daughters, Lovie Guffey and Rosa Hudson, a multi-generational family of right-handed, die-hard bowlers.

    "I have a 12-year-old great-granddaughter who went to her first women's tournament when she was a few months old," Manker said. "She slept through it, and the official photographer came and took a four-generation picture of us. She went back a year later, very much alive, and now she's junior bowling. The four generations of us bowled right there."

    With an entourage that included two hometown teams, Manker hit the lanes in Reno, relying on one 10-pound bowling ball and 45 years of experience.

    "My average here might have been 116 or 118 but right now I'm carrying only a 111 in one of our local leagues," Manker said. "One of my grandsons thinks I'm a terrific bowler, but refuses to bowl with me because 10 years ago I beat him one game, and he doesn't like to be beaten by a woman. Now, my assessment is that he does not like to be beaten, period."

    Manker says she has quite a few trophies from over years, but steers clear of the win-or-lose mentality of the competition, preferring to focus on how she plays the game.

    "The women who are win-oriented are very intense," she said. "Some of us like the sociability and exchange, and we have fun. If we win, it's a plus. I'm not into that. I don't have any preparation ritual or anything."

    Still, Manker understands how essential proper form and a good approach are to a bowler's success, though she is seemingly uncomfortable with being labeled.

    "I'm not sure that I can be categorized as being consistent," Manker said. "I think you could say I'm consistently inconsistent in my delivery, my approach. I had hip-replacement surgery when I was 79, and sometimes since then I've gone into a disgraceful approach. It's anything but graceful."

    As she heads toward her 92nd birthday, Manker stays active with cooking, gardening, church and family. With daughter Rosa the proprietor of Thayer Lanes, Manker recollects some bowling highlights from over the years, saying her highest game was "something between 200 and 225."

    As for her performance in the 2006 USBC Women's Championships, Manker bowled a 341 series, with games of 115, 122 and 104 in Thursday night's opening team event.

    Presenting sponsors of the USBC Women's Championships are Eldorado, Silver Legacy and Circus Circus Hotel/Casinos in Reno, Nev.