Bowler Spotlight | Mike Larson

Bowler Spotlight is a new Series designed to increase bowler recognition and to help others get to know the faces of bowling in North Dakota. This multi-part series will run every other Tuesday and will include bowlers from around the state, as well as bowling centers, pro shops, and tournament event staffs. For this part of the series, we stayed in Fargo to get to know Mr. 867, Mike Larson.

January of 2007, I was a Sophomore at NDSU and a rookie in the men’s ranks of bowling in North Dakota. Having grown up in Minot and watching the Shootout at North Hill Bowl every January, I decided to pay a visit to Sunset Lanes for the WDAY/WDAZ Bowling Classic, a tournament similar to the Shootout in Minot. Upon getting to the lanes, the first thing I did was find a score sheet. Since it was the events’ second day, the emphasis was placed on the top 5 bowlers since they would eventually be the ones bowling for the crown on live television. At first the scores seemed relatively high, so I figured the scores must be close near the top of the leaderboard. By this time, I had begun to know the names like Hersrud, Morris, and Schick and expected to see them near the top. However, the guy in first wasn’t one of those names. The guy in first wasn’t just in first, he was in first by a mile. As shocked as I was, I started looking for this guy out on the lanes. With everyone using “A” and “B” for names, this was much more difficult than I thought it would be, so I asked the friendly patrons walking the concourse who this guy was. They all seemed shocked that I didn’t know him. One guy looked at me and said, “see that guy over there, the one that could pass for the incredible hulk, that’s him”. Low and behold, there he was, Mike Larson. A guy with virtually no backswing and was able to practically manhandle the bowling ball, making it look easy. I was shocked that I never knew who this guy was, but at the same time, I wasn’t too sure I wanted to get to know a guy who was practically 3 of me. I felt as though I wasn’t in a bowling alley but rather on an episode of ‘finding bigfoot’ or a ‘messing with sasquatch’ commercial. Little did I know, Mike is the farthest thing from the hulk and, as it turns out, he was one of the nicest guys I met while living in Fargo.

Mike Larson with PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber

Mike Larson
Hometown: Moorhead, MN
Home Bowling Center: Sunset Lanes, Red River Lanes
Occupation: Grocery wholesaler at Nash Finch for 27 Years. Currently in the inventory control department

Career Achievements
– 14 – 300 games
– 8- 800 Series (867 @ Sunset Lanes, 842 @ West Acres, and 838 @ Red River Lanes)
– 6 – 299 games
– 10 time Fargo/Moorhead Team of the Year Member
– Various Fargo/Moorhead All-City singles, doubles and team titles
– Member of the 2012 State HDCP Team Champions
– 13 USBC National Tournament appearances

Career Highlights:
The 867 series I shot last week was pretty cool, but not just for the scores. My wife, sister, and mom were all there to see it. To share it with them was very special.
– Winning the Team title at last year’s State Handicap tournament in Dickinson. I’ve been a member of some successful local team events, but to win on the state level as part of a group was very satisfying. We bowled well, knew it was going to be close, and won by 2 pins after our anchor, Justin Coste, struck out in the tenth frame.
– My first trip to Nationals, 2001 event in Reno. Coming out of the squad room and onto the National Bowling Stadium lanes for the first time was something I’ll never forget.

I also asked Mike why he started bowling
To be honest, I started bowling because I had nothing else. I was 27 years old, recently divorced, and struggling with sobriety. It was probably the lowest point of my life. One night my phone rings and it was my sister, Carol. My brother-in-law had hurt his neck and wasn’t going to be ready for the upcoming bowling season and she asked if I would take his place on their Sunday night mixed couples team. I was a little hesitant, but she convinced me to at least give it a shot. I found it to be very enjoyable/challenging and something I looked forward to every week. I used a house ball and shoes until Christmas, then used a gift certificate to Sunset’s pro shop my brother gave me to buy my first ball and a real pair of bowling shoes. I ended the year with a 191 average and I was on my way.

Additional Comments:
Even with all the success I’ve had in bowling, it’s the friendships I’ve made along the way that mean the most to me. That includes you, Daren Seney!!

Having lived in Fargo for 7 years, I have had the opportunity to bowl with Mike on several occasions. Whether it be on a league team, in a tournament, or a weekend practice session at the lanes. Having got to know Mike over the years, he has become one of my better friends on the lanes. Like I mentioned earlier, before meeting Mike, I thought he was the incredible hulk, but after getting to know him, he seems more like Ishmael Borg from the movie ‘King Pin’. In May, I will be traveling to The National Bowling Stadium with Mike to bowl the USBC Open. I guess that makes me Roy Munson? Hmm I see the resemblance….

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