Rasmussen reaches nationals

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 12, 2003

This weekend, Matt Rasmussen is competing in the biggest bowling tournament of his life.

It’s doubtful, however, that he’s feeling much pressure. And, unless he comes up with the performance of a lifetime, the outcome is unlikely to affect his mood.

The 18-year-old Rasmussen, a recent graduate of Albert Lea High School, is happy to be a qualifier for the 2003 USA Junior Gold Bowling National Championships that run July 12-18 in St. Louis, Mo.

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Rasmussen is one of two Albert Leans to earn a spot in the tournament, where 1,081 bowlers will compete for more than $50,000 in scholarship money. The other is Brandon Boekelman, who qualified No. 1 among Minnesota’s 30-plus entrants in the tournament.

Rasmussen took the same path, but he’s not certain where he ranks among the state’s national qualifiers. He is sure it’s closer to No. 30 than No. 1.

&uot;It’s still kind of weird,&uot; said Rasmussen. &uot;It’s still kind of hard to believe I’m going down there.&uot;

Like Boekelman, Rasmussen participated in the Twin Cities Youth Masters League this past season. He advanced to nationals through a qualifying tournament in Fridley, where he rolled series of 646 and 580 for 1,226 total pins.

While Rasmussen essentially had a berth to nationals wrapped up after the first series, and he won by more than 200 pins, he admitted there was some pressure in the qualifying tournament.

&uot;I didn’t want to screw up because I knew I had a good shot,&uot; he said. &uot;I figured it was one time I had to perform, I had to come through.&uot;

Rasmussen, son of Gail and Jerry Rasmussen of Albert Lea, is a relative newcomer to the sport. He began bowling competitively only four years ago, when friends urged him to join a league and his brother, Marc, encouraged him to start throwing a hook. He was a two-year member of the ALHS bowling team, finishing fourth in the conference in fill percentage as a senior.

He credits both his brother and Boekelman for helping improve his game.

&uot;I just basically had people along the way give me little pointers,&uot; he said.

But his game took a big jump after he attended a Rigter Camp last fall. There, Rasmussen said, he learned a more controlled throw, and the results have been impressive. After ending the previous year with an average of 185 per game, Rasmussen finished this past season averaging 197.

And it’s doubtful he has peaked.

&uot;I feel I still have a lot of work to do, but I think it’s still on its way up,&uot; said Rasmussen.

Rasmussen admits he hasn’t practiced as much as he’d like for the national tournament.

&uot;In the summer, I’m more into baseball, softball,&uot; he said. &uot;But in the fall, the second the fall hits, I’m interested in bowling.&uot;

Rasmussen had five 700 series to his credit, including three this past season, with a high game of 279 and two 278s.

Rasmussen plans to pursue an administrative assistant degree at Riverland Community College in Albert Lea while continuing his bowling endeavors, moving up to adult leagues and, hopefully, obtaining a coaching certificate so he can coach youngsters on Saturdays.

As for nationals, Rasmussen is looking forward to going but does have one regret. His mom couldn’t get off work and won’t be able to attend.

&uot;It would be good to go down there and do pretty well,&uot; said Rasmussen. &uot;So I have something to come home and give her an earful about.&uot;