The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Jim Rueda

May 23, 2012

Rueda: ‘Lefty’ wins adapted bowling title

ST PETER — Perhaps they should start calling Colby Tolzmann “Lefty.”

The sophomore at Mankato East High School attended the Minnesota State Adapted Bowling Tournament Friday where he competed in the cognitively impaired division. Tolzmann rolled a 450 for two games to win the state championship from a field of 104 competitors at Brunswick Zone in Eden Prairie.

That’s an impressive feat in and of itself but, when you consider Tolzmann did it while bowling left-handed, it borders on the incredible. The sophomore is a natural right-hander and began the season using his right arm.

About six weeks ago, however, he suffered a hand injury that required stitches. The rest, as the cliché goes, is history.

“Colby’s average has been a 70 with a handicap of 117,” East coach Mary Peterson said. “About four or five weeks ago he had to change his style and teach himself to bowl left-handed. That makes what he accomplished at state pretty impressive.”

Tolzmann went to state as part of two Mankato East teams that competed. One finished 10th and the other 11th in the 27-team field.

Among the competitors was senior Mikala Sexson who also participated in the cognitively impaired division. She didn’t win a state title but bowled well enough to earn a medal with a ninth-place finish out of 85 competitors.

“She was our team captain,” Peterson said. “She had been to state the previous two years and had not medaled, so this was a great finish to her senior year. I’ve also nominated her for the Russ Bakko Outstanding Bowler Award, but the winner hasn’t been announced yet.”

The Russ Bakko award honors more than just athletic talent. It also takes into account sportsmanship, school work, community volunteering and the like.

“We had a very good group of student athletes this year,” said Peterson, who is leaving her post to take another job in Minneapolis next year. “They were all very supportive. They helped each other; they were concerned about other people.

“The East student body really got behind the kids, too. They’ve made it a real positive venue for kids with disabilities.”

Peterson, who has been the adapted bowling coach for the last six years, will be missed. I’ve seen her in action at meets, and both she and West coach Shawna Coulter have excellent rapport with the student athletes.

Whoever follows Peterson will find a program in excellent shape with kids who yearn to have fun and succeed. If you doubt that, just ask Lefty Tolzmann and Mikala Sexson.

Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or e-mail him at Follow him on Twitter @jimrueda.

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Jim Rueda