The capital of Air Force bowling

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo
  • 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
For 2013, Dyess Air Force Base can stake its claim of being the capital of Air Force bowling, as two Dyess Airmen placed first and second Air Force-wide April 15-28 during the Armed Forces Championship, at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Master Sgt. Donald Benson, 7th Communications Squadron and Staff Sgt. Michael Warstler, 7th Bomb Wing ground safety, claimed top honors Air Force-wide and finished sixth and seventh respectively across the Department of Defense.

"You could say that for now, Dyess is the hub of Air Force bowling, at least until someone takes our crown," said Benson. "We were the only two guys from the same base and we went out there with one mission and we accomplished that mission. I think we represented the base very well during this competition."

Benson, an 18-year Air Force veteran and avid bowler since the age of two, has competed in the Armed Forces Championship six times. However, this was his first time back since he won the tournament in 2001, giving him added motivation to show the younger guys how it's done.

"Going into it there were a lot of new people that didn't know me and didn't know what to expect of me. That is, until I got out on the lanes," Benson laughed. "My grandma owned a bowling alley her whole life so I picked it up at an early age. I could go in, turn the lanes on and practice anytime I wanted."

While this was Warstler's first time competing in the tournament, he's no rookie when it comes to succeeding on the lanes.

He began his bowling career in high school and was eventually named the county bowler of the year both his junior and senior year. Joining the Air Force in 2006, Warstler knew the Air Force had a bowling team, but wasn't able to make his debut until recently.

"When I was a younger Airman, I heard about the Air Force bowling team, but I didn't quite know how to qualify," Warstler said. "It wasn't until I came to Dyess in 2011 and met sergeant Benson, who enlightened me on the whole process of how to make the team and get my name out there."

Since then, Benson and Warstler have made quite the duo, competing in the base's bowling league together as well as competing in multiple tournaments around the nation.

"It's a bit of mentorship and a bit of a rivalry," Benson said with a smile. "It's competitive between us two, and we always want to see each other bowl well, but neither of us wants to lose. We said going into the competition that we wanted to be number one and two, but I let him know I wasn't finishing behind him."

During the first week of the event, Benson and Warstler competed against 14 other Air Force bowlers, seven of which possessed pro-cards, allowing them to compete at the professional level. After qualifying for the Air Force team, they went on to compete against the best each branch of service had to offer.

To test the skill, versatility and ability of the competitors, different oil patterns were put on the bowling lanes each day of competition. The patterns make bowling more difficult than traditional recreational bowling games.

"Many people aren't aware of how different equipment, lanes, oil and environments can play an integral part of the game," Benson said. "We were very fortunate for Dyess Lanes to provide us with the proper oil patterns in order to better prepare us for the competition."

After two weeks and nearly 120 games, the Air Force men's team finished in third place behind the Army who took home first place and the Navy who placed second.

Even though this was the last year Benson and Warstler will be able to compete together, due to Benson's upcoming permanent change of station later this year, they have no doubt that they will be squaring off as usual at next year's competition.