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Stewartville bowlers get a 'Mermaid Miracle' and a state championship

Stewartville slips past Lake City for state title as Dawson Peterson converts miracle shot.

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Dawson Peterson knocked in a 6-7 split on Sunday at a crucial time to help Stewartville to the Class A state championship in Mounds View. Post Bulletin file photo / Ken Klotzbach
Forum Communications Co.

There are pool sharks, billiards wizards who skim balls into balls and make them fall impossibly into pockets.

On Sunday at Mermaid Event & Entertainment Center in Mounds View, there was a bowling shark.

Stewartville sophomore Dawson Peterson was the one, pulling off the next-to impossible and doing it with everything on the line — a state Class A team championship.

“That shot he made, it’s like a one-and-one-hundred shot,” Stewartville coach Steve Sherman said.

True. But if anyone on this standout team of Peterson, Payton Rowley, Walker Bishop, Miles Rice, Madden Ackman and Remington Bamlet was going to pull it off, it was Peterson, a guy regarded as among the top handful of youth bowler in the state and one of the top ones in the country in his age group.

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Also a guy who knows how to make the impossible happen.

“Dawson can play multiple angles, and he reads the lanes so well,” Sherman said. “He knows all of that stuff. I just sat back and watched.”

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What Peterson was staring at was the need to convert a 6-7 split, a nearly impossible setup that finds two pins standing, one on the far right side of the lane and the other on the far left side. To make both pins tumble, the bowler must strike one of them so dramatically to the outside that it then slides across the lane and strikes the other pin.

Gutter balls are often the result of such attempts, the angle so sharp that's needed to be struck. And when the 6-7 conversion is actually achieved, witnesses tend to roar and dance, while the converter walks away seeming more magician than bowler.

Stewartville was facing familiar foe Lake City in the Class A state championship on Sunday when this stage was set.

Lake City’s Dru Kohrs and Peterson were the last ones on, the “anchors” of teams that were in a virtual tie as these two dueled to end the event. Kohrs had just hit a strike in the latest stages of the title match. Peterson followed by putting himself and his team in a dreadful spot, the 6 and 7 pins left standing on his shot.

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Then came Kohrs’ final two attempts. He sent all the pins scattering on his first roll, then applied the ultimate pressure on Peterson by delivering another strike on his final attempt.

The Lake City team and its fans were going wild, virtually certain then that the state championship was theirs.

Kohr was now done bowling, and Peterson needed to knock down the remotely spaced 6 and 7 pins on his next attempt for his team to win. He knew as well as the Lake City contingent did how long his odds were, having not converted this “magic” shot in over a year.

A chance

Still, Peterson gave himself a chance, steadying his nerves before he launched his shot, drawing a deep breath before letting it go.

Once out of his hand, he felt something, as if magic really might happen.

“It felt like a 50-50 shot,” Peterson said.

The sophomore struck the six pin perfectly, it then skittering across the lane at the sharpest of angles before crashing into the seven pin.

Unbelievable. Peterson had done it. With no pins left standing, the Tigers had their state championship, their first in a five-players-per-team tournament since 2013.

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“When I hit it, it was pretty much, ‘Oh my gosh, I made it. We’ve won!’ ‘ ” Peterson said.

As for Sherman, 63 years old and a lifelong bowler, he’d never witnessed such a bowling moment in his life. Not with the stakes this high.

“When I saw it, I pumped my arms into the air,” Sherman said. “I couldn’t believe that he made it. It was one of the greatest shots I’ve ever seen. And Dawson, he jumped into his teammates’ arms. It was incredible how high the emotions were.”

All of it was enough for Sherman to give this magical shot and the state championship that came with it a name. He’s calling it the “Mermaid Miracle in Mounds View.”

As for Peterson, he’s still pinching himself. But he’s also doing something else, reminding everyone he talks to that this wasn’t a championship that he won, it was one won by the Stewartville Tigers.

“Everyone on my team bowled really well,” he said. “I don’t want to be the only one getting credit for this.”

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