Delilah Marxen and Stuart Zell spared nothing last November.
Marxen, of Brainerd, and Zell, of Nisswa, are teammates on the Krause Lock and Key bowling team in the Senior Mixed League at Jack's House in Brainerd.
The two entered a Senior Mixed Bowling Tournament at the Super Bowl in Anoka. Zell and Marxen bowled well enough to compete in the finals the next weekend.
That's when the excitement started.
Thanks to their bowling prowess, Marxen and Zell made it to the final four in their 70 and older age bracket.
Stuart Zell bowled in league play Wednesday at Jack's House in Brainerd. Zell qualified for a national tournament in Reno, Nev., in June.
Both enjoy bowling for the exercise and socializing, and neither had come close to ever winning a tournament before.
That changed on the second weekend. Zell won the men's tournament and will attend a national tournament in Reno, Nev., in June. Marxen finished second and missed her trip to Reno by three pins.
"I didn't know it was that close until the end," said Marxen, who has been bowling for 40 years. "I was kind of disappointed too. Another lady and I were pretty close and we kept teasing each other about how one would go ahead and the other would then go ahead. She picked up her spare at the end and I didn't."
It was the highest finish Marxen had ever earned. She wasn't bothered by not winning. She was happy for the person who did.
Marxen said her best scores are a 210 and a 202. She said she receives a pretty good handicap, which is why she was surprised with her second-place finish.
"I just bowl for fun, being with friends and it's very good exercise for me," she said. "My doctor said I better just stick with it as long as I can. We have a very good bunch of seniors to bowl with."
The group bowls Wednesdays at 1 p.m. It's one of three leagues Zell is a member of. He too had never won a tournament before.
The first weekend Zell notched a 620 to advance to the finals. During the second weekend he shot a 494.
"They added the two weekends together so everybody must have been as nervous as me because none of us bowled really well," said Zell.
Because of the win, Zell is headed to Reno June 15-16. He and his wife, Carol, are driving and may make a two-week trip out of it.
"I had never even gotten money back in any tournament before," said Zell. "It was probably the best series I had in four or five years. Everything seemed to click that day."
Zell also started bowling 40 years ago. He competes in at least two tournaments a year, but conceded he can't understand how he won his latest event.
"This was out of nowhere to tell you the truth," Zell said. "I have no idea how I did it. I haven't a clue. It was just one of those rare times when everything worked. You have to just sit back and enjoy those days because they don't come around very often."
The former Brooklyn Park resident bowls three times a week. Along with his Wednesday league, he's in a Friday and Monday league at Paul Bunyan Bowl in Baxter.
"I started out just doing it when I was younger for something to do," Zell said about how he became a bowler. "I was born and raised on a farm and it was just a night out. Then, when the kids were younger, we decided we needed a night out from the kids."
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