CAMANCHE — Camanche City Tournament is this week, and every year it’s one of the highlights for the small town.

“I don’t know what it is but bowling is one of the main things in town. I just hope it doesn’t change for a long time,” Imperial Lanes owner Jay Garvey said about the week-long tournament. “It kind of ends up being the center hub and the center of attention, so it all works out pretty good.”

Imperial Lanes is hosting the 55th Annual Camanche City Tournament, playing house for 90 singles entires, 45 doubles entires and 27 teams between the men and women. The sport is to the point where it is a tradition in Camanche.

“Why is bowling such a big deal in Camanche? I would say it is because bowling in Camanche, and I’m sure elsewhere, is a long standing family tradition,” Robert Reppert said. Reppert is the Association Manager for the Camanche Bowling Association, a role he has held for nine years. “I, for one, come from a bowling family. There are three generations of my family bowling in Camanche and there are many other examples of parents and grandparents who have inspired and encouraged their children and grandchildren to bowl. Simply put, bowling is a fun, family friendly activity that everyone can enjoy.

Reppert and his board of directors meet with Garvey every year to plan each and every aspect of the tournament. That’s everything from the singles rounds all the way to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 tournaments.

The board members of the Camanche Bowling Association also work the event, with Reppert in attendance for every shift.

“It sounds like I do a lot, and I do, but I couldn’t do all that needs to be done without the help of the board,” Reppert said. “We have a great group of guys who are dedicated and willing to put in the time and effort it takes to make our city tournament run smoothly.

Plus, if you’ve been around Imperial Lanes at all you’ll know that everybody in the building has a connection that goes beyond the lanes with laughs, drinks and overall friendly competition.

But, it’s competition that brings impressive bowling scores every single year.

“They all think we do something different but I think they walk into the building with a different mentality,” Garvey said of the high scores. “They know it’s city tournament, they know there’s no screwing around and I think we’ll have high scores throughout this week.”

It’s a special accolade to make it to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 at the end of the tournament, and bowlers take that seriously.

“There is just a naturally occurring excitement that surrounds city tournament each year,” Reppert said. “Bowlers look forward to it and want to leave their mark —no pun intended— in the tournament’s history. I’ll go out on a limb and say that just about everyone, no matter their age, experience, or talent, wants to do well in the tournament.

“They want to see their name up on the list of the top bowlers in the tournament. Bowling well enough to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 or Elite 8 is a great achievement for any bowler, but winning it and knowing that you are the best of the best is something else. In short, city tournament is THE event of the bowling season.”

Garvey, Reppert and the board of directors have certainly done their job. The town may have less than 5,000 people inhabiting it, but they have big city-caliber bowling happening every year.

“There is always room for improvement,” Reppert said. “The vast majority of the feedback I receive from the bowlers is positive and can be attributed to the collaboration between our board and proprietor Jay Garvey. We work hard together to make sure that the city tournament experience is a positive one for everyone.”

The Camanche City Tournament wraps up on Sunday. The Clinton Herald will have a full list of results in Monday’s edition.

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