By Michael Cousins
This past week at the USBC masters, one of our own – Mike Dole – put on quite a show, making it all the way to the final 12 after qualifying as the 36th seed. Dole, of Rockford, Illinois, manages our BowlersMart Rockford location, inside Don Carter Lanes.
Dole is a two-time PBA Regional champion. He currently – though this number is ever growing – has 139 sanctioned 300s and 104 sanctioned 800s.
Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois, Dole spent three years (2006-2009) as a collegiate standout at Lindenwood University, where he majored in Marketing. While at Lindenwood, Dole had a great deal of success, including 2006 second team All-American honors.
Dole, who had competed in two previous Master’s tournaments, says going into this year’s event the goal was simple: make the cut. He had never managed to make matchplay in his first two appearances, though he did cash in one of the two prior tournaments, and that was his primary focus heading into the event.
Dole managed to accomplish his goal, qualifying as the 36th seed after fifteen games of qualifying.
Once into matchplay, Dole says he was “playing with house money.” All the pressure was off and he was able to focus on throwing good, quality shots. If he was able to do that, regardless of the outcome, he could live with his results.
“I was just out there having fun,” said Dole, “for a week, I was able to live the dream, bowling against the very best in the world.”
In his first round of matchplay, Dole was able to easily defeat Ildemaro Ruiz, by the score of 678-585. Dole says he had a great look on that pair, and Ruiz was struggling to find much of anything.
In the second round, Dole was able to narrowly defeat eventual runner up, Michael Tang, by the score of 719-691. “Mikey bowled great all week. I knew it would be a tough match, but I just stuck to my game plan and was able to get the W.”
Still in the winner’s bracket, Dole’s next challenge was friend, and good bowler, Craig Nidiffer. Nidiffer was able to defeat him, knocking him into the loser’s bracket. While Dole doesn’t take anything away from Nidiffer’s performance, he admitted to me that it was at this point that his emotions got the best of him. Dole told me “I was a little too amped up against Craig . . . not making any excuses, though.”
Now in the loser’s bracket, Dole knew that he would have to make “one hell of a run” in order to make it to the stepladder finals. He and his reps decided it would be best for him to sacrifice the first game in order to carve away a spot up the first arrow.
He and his ball reps were right.
His first match in the loser’s bracket – employing his new strategy – was against the reigning Master’s champion, Anthony Simonsen. Dole was able to make easy work of Simonsen, defeating him by the score of 668-539. Dole said of his match against Simonsen that “Anthony had nothing. The match was never really in question, so I was just able to bowl and focus on my game plan.”
After defeating Simonsen, Dole was able to defeat Ronnie Sparks Jr. by the score of 682-599, before ultimately losing to Dom Barrett 657-741. Going into the final game against Barrett, Dole found himself up 13; however, in game three, Barrett fired off a 279 game. “Not much you can do against that,” said Dole. “He found his groove, and when guys out here find their groove, they’re tough to beat.”
Throughout the course of the week, Dole says he primarily used a 2” pin Phaze II. “The goal was to get the ball to read as early as possible. I wanted to mimic a urethane type reaction, but I wanted to keep resin in my hands.” Dole says the theory behind this was to keep reactive resin in his hand because, for him, they went through the pins much, much better.
Now that the tournament is over, Dole returns home, back to his regular routine, bowling league, managing our Rockford location, and competing locally on the weekends. But, Dole tells me, he’ll never forget this week. “I was able to bowl against the best, compete with the best, and even beat some of the best; for a week, I was just a kid again, living out my dream.”