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Jim Zima bowling column: Highest averages lead to city's highest honors for Lee, LaFave

12:23 AM, May 27, 2013  |  Comments
Jeff Lee, left, and Wendy LaFave are the Press-Gazette Media bowlers of the year. They are shown at Willow Creek Lanes.
Jeff Lee, left, and Wendy LaFave are the Press-Gazette Media bowlers of the year. They are shown at Willow Creek Lanes.
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Jeff Lee and Wendy LaFave have something in common - setting the pace in average and scoring for the men and women, respectively, this past bowling season.

For there efforts, they were named Press-Gazette Media Bowlers of the Year.

Each year, a group of league officials and statisticians select the men's and women's top bowlers.

Lee led the way in the Green Bay-Bay Area USBC Bowling Association to earn his honor. He was joined on the first team by Scott Weber, John Schermetzler, Kevin Weiss and Matt Heesaker.

LaFave topped the Green Bay Area USBC Women's Bowling Association to capture the women's honor and was joined on the first team by Sue Olson, Ashley Brunette, Kim Hoffmann and Caitlin Polarek.

Lee, who came to Green Bay from Pennsylvania in August of 2002, has made the first team for 10 straight years, and this is the fourth time he has been named Bowler of the Year. He also was chosen in 2005, 2006 and 2008.

But when he first came to the area, it took him awhile to break into the city's leagues.

"I arrived here in August of '02 and right after I got here I went to Riviera Lanes and put my name down and I called Dave LaBar (Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley manager) and put my name in there, but nobody called.

"That first year, all I did was sub. I remember one night I shot an 836, but nobody called me to sub again for six weeks," said Lee, who now is an owner of Willow Creek Lanes.

That changed in the 2003-04 season when he joined teams in two leagues at Riviera. The following year, he got into the Green Bay Major.

This past year, Lee won the average title in the Major with a 240.63 average and posted the top average in the association men's leagues with a 241.97 in the Riviera 973.

In addition, he led the association with 55 national honor counts, including six 800 series and 49 700s. He also led the association with five 300 games.

This is the 20th year the Press-Gazette has chosen an all-city team, and Weber has been a first-team choice 13 times and bowler of the year six times.

Weber won the 3-Man Classic average title for the fifth straight year, posting a 229.08 mark. A once-a-week bowler, Weber had 16 national honor counts, including two 800s.

Lee and Weber are the only repeat selections on the first team, while Schermetzler was a second-team choice last year.

Schermetzler, from Manitowoc, who bowls once a week in the association in the Major, finished second to Lee with a 237.52, and Weiss finished second to Weber in the 3-Man with a 221.26. Heesaker had a composite average of 221.49 in three leagues and had 27 national honor counts, including two 800s.

LaFave made the first team for the 13th straight year. It is the second time she has been Bowler of the Year, previously being chosen in 2011.

"I was a bit surprised," she said when informed of the honor. "I struggled a bit at Ashwaubenon (Hometown Café Women's Classic) and only had one 700 there and didn't get high average, but I did average 208."

But LaFave had the highest season average in the women's association with a 224 in the Willow Creek Bellevue Strikers.

In addition to the 208 in the Women's Classic, she averaged 217 in Riv's Rowdies, a couples league.

She led the association with 63 scores of 600 or better, including 12 national honor counts, also tops in the association. She had national honor series at three lanes, recording nine at Willow Creek, two at Riviera and one at Ashwaubenon.

Olson, a recent newcomer to the area from Madison, made the first team for the second time, having made it originally in 2010. She was second to LaFave in national honor counts with 10, including the season's only sanctioned 800 series, an 823. She had 43-plus 600 series and two 300 games.

This marked the 20th straight year Hoffmann was chosen on the first team, making it every year since the Press-Gazette started the team. She has been Bowler of the Year 10 times. She was third in the association in national honor counts with nine.

Brunette and Polarek are recent additions to the adult bowling scene after starring in the junior program. Polarek was a first-team junior choice seven times, the last in 2010, and Junior Bowler of the Year twice. Brunette was on the junior first team twice, in 2008 and 2009.

Brunette, a second-team choice last year, won the Women's Classic average title with a 212 and had 24 counts of 600 or more with four 700s. Polarek ranked fourth in the association with 51 600-plus series, including three national honor counts.

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