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Bonde finally gets his perfect game

The bowlers who rolled perfect games during the 2009-10 season at Nybo's Lanes include (front row, from left): Al Harteneck (21 career 300 games), Matt Johnson (3) and Rick Bichel (3); (back row) Brad Guse (1), Dustin Stensrud (5) and Dave Bonde (1). Andrew Well (6) and Gary Tuin (1) are not pictured. - photo by Ryan Nilsson, Republican Eagle

Every Tuesday and Thursday night before Dave Bonde left for league play at Nybo's Bowling Lanes in Red Wing, his wife, Carol, sent him off with the same instructions:

"Have fun, bowl good, behave and get a 300."

And during Central League this February, after 38 years in the leagues, he finally accomplished all four in one night.

"I've come close so many times, and I just kind of thought something like this wasn't meant to be," Bonde said. "I had almost given up hope."

Bonde joined seven other bowlers who achieved a 300 game this season at Nybo's, according to manager Sue Stensrud, who said Bonde was very active in bowling.

"Dave is almost like someone you look up to with bowling in Red Wing," said Al Harteneck, who knew Bonde from high school in Lake City and of course, the youth bowling league. "Anything that deals with bowling, he's always been there."

Bonde formerly served as president of the Red Wing Men's Bowling Association. He's now in his 32nd year as league secretary.

Youth bowling in Red Wing also benifited from Bonde's teaching skills, Harteneck said. Bonde spent 15 years working with the junior league while son Christopher learned the game.

Some of Bonde's most memorable times include bowling with Christopher, who now lives in Arizona.

"I brought him up through the ranks and tried teaching him as best I could," Bonde said.

He spoke as proudly of his son's two 300 games in Red Wing nine years ago as if they were his own.

But nearing the 10th frame of his own bowling career, Bonde became skeptical he would record his own 300. He had thrown 11 consecutive strikes before but just couldn't get that last strike, scoring 298 and even 299.

"When you bowl 37 years, and you don't get any (300 games), the odds aren't in your favor," Bonde said. "Especially when you're 56 -- past my prime so to speak."

He estimated most league bowlers are in their 30s and 40s.

By Thursday, Feb. 18, three years had passed since the last time Bonde got close to a perfect game.

"I really never thought much of it until the 10th frame," he said. "You really try to stay within yourself, because if you start letting the excitement get to you, you're going to make mistakes."

Similar to the silence from a pitcher's teammates when he's on the cusp of a no-hitter, fellow bowlers don't talk about it but stop and watch when another has the first nine strikes leading into the 10th frame, Bonde said.

Some cheered after the first strike of Bonde's 10th frame.

And after the second strike, a few cheered a little louder, he recalled. And then the pressure was really on.

"I took a breath, calmed down, and thought, 'I'm not going to let this one get away again.' And sure enough it happened -- I got it," Bonde said.

Nybo's erupted with cheering and clapping, Stensrud said.

"It was quite the accomplishment," she added.

The cheers were heard all the way in Fort Myers, Fla., apparently. After Carol Bonde sent word to a family friend who worked for the Minnesota Twins, Dave Bonde received an e-mail of congratulations from manager Ron Gardenhire, who also has recorded a 300.

But most importantly, the weight lifted from Bonde's shoulders that night, he said, echoing something told to Harteneck, who was bowling in the next lane.

"He said, 'I finally got the monkey off my back,'" Harteneck recalled, laughing.

"He'd been searching for it for a long time, and I was really happy for him to get it."