TriCounty When Gary Strait of Peoria finished last year's league bowling season in the early spring of 1998, he had carved out a special spot for himself in the Greater Peoria Bowling Association.
The 28-year-old lefthander had ended the season with a 231 average for 84 games, the highest average in the long history of the GPBA.
And for his historical achievement, Strait is the Co-Tri-County Male Athlete of the Year for 1998.
Bowling in the Checkmate League at Mt. Hawley Bowl, the 6-foot-3, 225 pound Richwoods High School graduate actually was on target to flirt with a 240 average before a late-season slump.
He had his average up to 238 with two-thirds of the season over but then hit an eight-week slum. "I kept wondering when I was going to have a bad night," he said. "It never came until those last eight weeks."
After a 539 series, his low mark of the season, he went with a new ball, produced a 791 series the first time out and got his average back over 230.
Beginning his league career when he was 17, he has had four 300 games and four 800 series. He is the only bowler in Peoria to ever author back-to-back 800 series.
He has received two awards of merit in the last three years for high average in the GPBA, a 228 and then his recordsetting 231. He also received an award of merit for the highest series in the city, an 837.
When Gary Strait of Peoria finished last year's league bowling season in the early spring of 1998, he had carved out a special spot for himself in the Greater Peoria Bowling Association.
Ulrich has coached in the Junior Football League and youth baseball for 32 years, while also serving as president of numerous youth leagues and director of the Peoria Diocesan basketball tournament. He began volunteering as coach for the Richwoods Browns JFL team in 1971 and served in a coaching or administrative capacity for the Richwoods JFL program from 1971-89. In addition, he served as a coach and president of the Richwoods League League, as well as Pony League, from 1975-85. During that same period, he coached the Bergan All-Star Pony League from 1981-84. In his role as St. Thomas Grade School athletic director for 32 years, Ulrich directed the 11 boys (six) and girls (five) basketball teams for 27 years, scheduling tournaments, ordering uniforms and hiring officials among his many duties. He also served as director of the Peoria Diocesan Tournament for 14 years. Ulrich coached basketball at Peoria Heights Grade School from 2006-11 and he volunteered as manager of a fastpitch team in the Peoria Park District Softball League for 23 years, while also playing on the team for several seasons. He currently is completing his two-year stint as the St. Philomena School 5th Grade boys basketball team and is preparing for his second year of coaching in the Irish youth baseball program.