Mike Townsend


Mike Townsend should have been celebrating Saturday night. Instead, he and his bowling buddies were consoling each other.

Townsend had clinched first place in TK’s Last Minute Scratch Tournament at Cougar Lanes in Clinton, defeating some of the Stateline’s finest bowlers. But the news he heard afterward left him feeling anything but jubilant.

“There were probably 15 Rockford bowlers in the tournament and I was with several when it was over,” the Rockton resident said. “They had heard about the shooting at Don Carter Lanes and that one of the men killed was Jerome Woodfork. He was one of the best Rockford bowlers ever. He has come and bowled in our tournaments in Beloit and South Beloit many times. Everybody knew him.

“They waited to tell me until after I was done bowling. It went from a celebration to sadness. That was such a senseless thing that happened.”

Other bowlers posted tributes to Woodford on Facebook, including Jermarrion Simmons, CEO/Chairman at Amateur Bowlers Co.,who described him as “a feared competitor, a great bowler and an amazing friend.”

A member of the Greater Rockford Bowling Hall of Fame, Woodfork was a member of the Rockford Travelers bowling team that competed in the National Travelers Bowling League events.

• BDN UPDATE: Townsend, who is Tournament Director of the annual Beloit Daily News Holiday Bowling Tournament, said entries for the 94th event are currently at 79. Up until this year, the tournament has always been held right after Christmas.

COVID-19 intervened, however, with the tourney venue, Viking Lanes in South Beloit, currently closed. The good news is that it will re-open Saturday in time to host the first day of qualifying. The event will be held Jan. 9-10 and 15-16-17.

The first two qualifying days will be Saturday and Sunday with squad shifts at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day. The final qualifying shifts at 6 and 9:30 p.m. will be held Jan. 15. Semifinals will be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 16 and the finals will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 17.

Last year’s tournament drew 138 entrants and Townsend is optimistic that number can be at least reached again.

“I have at least 30 or 40 regulars who haven’t signed up yet that I expect to,” Townsend said. “We have a ways to go, but we are filling up some squads. We hope even in this odd year people are looking for something to do and bowlers want to get back on the lanes. We’re hoping we can reach that 130-plus number again.”

The major sponsor of the event, Culver’s of Belvidere owner Todd Kjell, said he is adding an extra $1,000 to the prize fund as an added incentive.

There is competition in four divisions: Open Scratch, Open Handicap, Senior and Women’s Scratch. All entrants must bowl two qualifying squads of five games.