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In a league of their own

By Staff | Nov 23, 2009

Left to right, Diana Johnson, Carol More, Clare Prechel and Dorothea Hadlick are team members of the Photos by GT team, part of the Sparette League at Lucky Lanes in Winnebago.

Every Thursday afternoon, Clare Prechel picks-up her 93-year old teammate, Dorothea Hadlick, and they head to the Lucky Lanes in Winnebago.

There, they are met by other senior citizens and a few ‘kids’ for an afternoon of socializing, exercise and fun.

Prechel began league bowling in 1972 in Mankato. After a brief hiatus from the sport (1975-1978), she resumed play at Lucky Lanes in 1978 and has bowled there ever since. She has seen teammates come and go over the years, but is enjoying her present team which consists of Hadlick and Carol More with Diana Johnson acting as their sub when she is needed.

“I was doing some camera work at Photos by GT and asked Gary Sands if he would sponsor my bowling team,” says Prechel. That was 16 years ago and he still sponsors the team which has won the championship for the Sparette League for the past six years.

It is not surprising the Photos by GT three-woman team has such a remarkable record when one adds the women’s years of experience to the mix. Hadlick has bowled in a league for 56 years, Prechel 37, Johnson 26 and More for five years.

Three of the four women are also members of the Winnebago Area Bowling Hall of Fame. Prechel was recognized in 2000, Hadlick in 2003 and Johnson in 2006.

“In order to be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame,” explains Prechel, “a person must have bowled on a league at the Winnebago lanes for a minimum of five years.”

Each year, six bowlers are inducted into the Hall of Fame from one of three categories. These include: Being a Pioneer; Meritorious Service and Superior Performance. Hadlick, Prechel and Johnson respectively received the honor based on this criteria.

Hadlick credits her award of ‘Being a Pioneer’ to the fact she began bowling when she was a young girl at the Blue Earth school. After graduating, she and her girlfriends began spending time at Luedtke’s Bowling Alley which was in the basement of the then pool hall. Today, it is the site of Double Play.

Hadlick says there were pin boys setting up the pins back then in the 1940s. Another change from present day league bowling was the fact many teams played either at 7 p.m. or 9 p.m.

Today, Hadlick still uses an 11-pound ball and also wears the bowling shoes she purchased over 40 years ago for $15.

“They’re still comfortable,” she says smiling.

Prechel, another long-time bowling enthusiast, not only loves the sport but also is the secretary for three leagues at Lucky Lanes as well as being the Association Manager.

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.