Bowler Kjell feeling great during a torrid streak

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BELOIT - Todd Kjell says it's usually easy to gauge when his bowling game is going to receive a boost.

"I usually bowl as good as I feel physically," the Roscoe native said.

Obviously, he's been feeling great lately.

Kjell's recent hot streak started on Christmas Eve in a senior tournament at Viking Lanes. He rolled 1,228 for the second highest qualifying total before losing to good friend Kevin Punzel.

He followed that with a terrific 20-game stretch to win the Senior Division of the 2018 Beloit Daily News Holiday Tournament at Viking, shooting 4,770.

Next up came the B&B New Year's Day Tournament in Rockford in which he took first place. He shot 882 for four games of qualifying and then won three match games, finishing with a 247 for the crown.

That brought him to last Wednesday night and league bowling at Diamond Lanes in Beloit, where he shot 268, 300 and 231 for a 799.

Sunday, he bowled in the King Classic in Freeport, finishing fourth out of 89 bowlers. He averaged 222.3 in eight games of qualifying.

"I haven't had a week or so like that in a long, long time," Kjell said. "It was a lot of fun."

It's also been a long time since he has felt as good physically as he does right now.

The 57-year-old Kjjell credits much of his success this year to his decision to seek treatment for a chronically sore hand at the UW-Madison Hospital.

"I have terrible arthritis in my right hand from all my bowling," he said. "You can't bowl 800 games in a year and not have some injuries I guess. I decided to go to UW and they found a slight tear in a TFCC tendon which was not in a position to be surgically fixed. But they gave me a little device called a Wrist Widget that provides support and I wear it constantly. They also did an ultra-sound guided injection of a steroid into my wrist and they got it right into the right pocket. Two days later, my wrist felt better than it has in years. Honestly, that has been the biggest reason why I've been bowling better."

In addition to coming away with a title in the BDN Tournament, Kjell saw the event deliver a $10,000 purse for the first time and boast a field of 117 bowlers. While he won't do it, he has a lot to do with the revival of the tourney as its biggest sponsor through his business, Culver's of Belvidere.

"It's so exciting to see," Kjell said. "(Tournament Director) Mike Townsend has done a phenomenal job.Once in awhile you hear someone say, 'Well, it wasn't done like this in the old days,' but that's the point. It isn't the old days. When I won in 1994 I won a hundred bucks and a trophy. Before that you'd win a watch and a trophy. People today would prefer to see the money. On a $65 entry there is no other tournament around where 30 percent of the field gets paid and the top spots get $1,000."

After competing in the two Viking tournaments as well as the New Year's Day Tourney in Rockford, he said he was feeling a little stiff and sore last Wednesday morning. He paid a visit to bowling buddy Ryan Griffin, the two-time BDN Scratch champion, who also happens to be his chiropractor.

"I went to league that night and I just got on a roll," he said of his 37th career 300. "I was a little mad at myself I didn't get the 800. I only have five career 800s. I couldn't tell you how many 780 to 790 series I've had. Tons. But that magical 800 always seems to elude me.

"I should have had it this time. I started out great with a 268 and 300. I started the third game with four straight strikes. But then I left a big Greek church, a five-count split. It was a mess. Then I threw a double and a 10-pin and struck out and missed it by one."

He said even after 36 previous 300s, including one this year, rolling a perfect game still causes him some butterflies.

"I don't care how many you have, you still get a little nervous," he said. "My girlfriend (Jenny Wonders) is a real good bowler and she has four. She had one earlier this season and when she got done she said, 'Look at my hands. I'm really shaking.'"

Kjell wrapped up his run with the fourth place in Freeport.

"Being in the top four with the quality of bowlers there really meant a lot," he said. "Those were some of the best young bowlers in the Midwest."

It will be his last competition for awhile. He'll have surgery on his left knee to repair a slight meniscus tear.

"I got my hand fixed up and now I'll have my knee fixed," he said. "I'll be ready to go back on the Senior Tour. I dealt with so many injuries and illness last year. If I can go out feeling good, who knows what I can do?"

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