PIERRE — With nearly a 40-year bowling career under his belt, Doug Bjorke of Huron was inducted into the South Dakota State USBC Bowling Hall of Fame during an honors program held Saturday in Pierre.
Bjorke got his start in bowling in 1978 and has been heavily involved in the sport ever since.
“I started bowling my first year out of high school, mostly as a sub, but finished the season full time with a 147 average,” Bjorke said. “By 1981, I averaged 181 and achieved my first 200 average (204) in the 1986-87 season.
After a break of sorts to start a family, Bjorke returned to bowling on a more consistent basis in 1987.
“I tried bowling as much as possible, but didn’t hit the 200 average again until the 1995-96 season,” he said. “I started bowling in 11 leagues for several years in my quest to pursue the elusive 300 games. In 1987, I bowled 57 games of 279 and thought it just wasn’t going to happen.”
Bjorke’s quest for perfection continued until 1996, when he joined the first-ever summer league to by held at the Plains.
“I got paired against one of my best friends. Our hands were very similar and he asked if he could use one of my extra bowling balls,” Bjorke said. “He bowled his first 300 game against me, and I returned the favor in the third game. He finished with a 739 series and I had 779.
“He wanted that ball, so I said he could have it if he got me a new one the next season,” he said. “The story was front-page news in the Huron Daily Plainsman and even made the Bowlers Journal magazine with this headline, “Bowlers share balls, shoot 300s.”
Bjorke has rolled a total of five 299 games, with one carrying a little extra meaning. It came during the State Open Tournament in Rapid City.
“I’ve had the privilege of bowling with five state Hall of Famers, all on the same team — Dave Harles, Don Kluckman, Dick Freng, Don Engel and Burt Bruha,” Bjorke said. “When I anchored that team for many years, it was then and only then, I thought I might be a good bowler.”
Another one of his 299 games came in 2013 after he returned from a nearly-fatal battle against West Nile disease.
Bjorke has averaged above 200 for 15 years, with a career-high average of 214 during the 1999-2000 season.
He has a trio of 800 series, with his first coming at the Plains in 1987.
Throughout his career, Bjorke has bowled in 35 State Open Championships, with five top-10 finishes, and 35 Huron City Tournaments, winning titles in 10. His most recent title came in the Huron USBC Tournament of League Champions in 2016.
Bjorke also has seven top-10 finishes in the State 700 Tournament, 23 titles in other tournaments and 44 league titles.
“My partner and I hold the Huron USBC doubles record of 1,566, which was rolled in the 2010 City Champions,” said Bjorke, who has also bowled in 10 National USBC Open Championships.
Bjorke has also filled leadership roles locally throughout his career. He served as a director on the Huron Bowling Association, was the organization’s president in 2001 and again from 2006-2008, after overseeing the USBC merger transition of the Huron men, women and youth organizations.
Bjorke was elected a Huron USBC Association Life Member in 2006.