If you have participated in competitive sports, you are aware of the fact that losing is sometimes hard to deal with. I remember some tough losses in high school, college and even playing baseball for the Tiffin Elks for several years. In a few of those games the bitter taste of defeat didn't leave me for a couple of days. A smile wasn't going to be pasted on my face for the foreseeable future, but still it didn't diminish my love for the competition.
Now that I'm a middle-aged (come on, give me the benefit of the doubt) athlete (again) I still get the chance to compete in bowling. You have the team competition, the individual competition between you and the pins as well as the chance to beat your opponent - the person bowling in the same position for your competitors.
Though there is no material reward for besting your man, it is a game you can choose to play (in your own mind) if you seek an additional form of competition.
Last Monday evening I did not bowl very well, my man beat my behind and my team got trounced. I mean I'm talking sanded, waxed, pounded, hammered or any other word you might choose to use. We kept the first game close, but that was it. Suffice it to say we lost all four points. Yet I left the lanes with a smile on my face.
Now there are not many sports where you can lose and still smile about it. Bowling just happens to be one of them. Let me explain.
When I got to Heritage Family Center I found myself bowling in the third spot. My individual opponent for the night was one Harry Smith. Yep, you guessed it. The very same Harry Smith who I spent a day touring (so to speak) local golf courses with just a couple of months ago.
Not only can Harry hit a golf ball, but he throws a mean bowling ball as well. He struggled in the first game, searching for a line. Apparently he found it late in that first game because he came out smoking in game two. He started with a strike in frame one and added another in the second. As he kept throwing strike after strike it became fun to watch.
It is a tradition in league bowling to slap hands with teammates when throwing a strike or converting a spare. When you throw strike after strike, the hand slapping extends to your opponents. I think Harry was getting "skin" from guys a couple of alleys away.
He threw the front nine and took to the approach for the final frame with bowlers in two different leagues watching intently. He carried No. 10 to cheers from the onlookers. His 11th ball was again in the pocket, but a solid 10 pin stood unmoving and you could hear the groans from all of us. He converted for a 289 game and walked back to accept congratulations from virtually everyone.
I bowled poorly, my team got beat, my man taught me a lesson and I was still smiling. I asked Harry after that game if he had ever rolled a perfect game and he said he had not. He threw 11 in a row once only to leave the nine pin on the last ball, settling for a 299.
As good as Harry was on the night, he was not even the best bowler on his team. Greg Tiell pounded the pocket again and again, shredding the pins for a whopping 756 total. A few 10 pins and a totally unfair 7-10 pocket split kept him from being even better.
As he pointed out afterwards, "I'm not sure I can bowl any better than that; I was in the pocket all night." I have to point out that his statement was a bit of an exaggeration. I recall one shot that went to the Brooklyn side, ergo "all" night would not be totally correct, Tielly!
Actually the Brooklyn shot carried and with any luck at all he would have been looking at an 800 series. He was so good that you didn't even have to watch him. You could listen for the sound of ball meeting pins and you knew.
Just be sure to stick your hand out when he comes back.
Action in the Alley Cats League found Jamie Thom shooting 600 on the nose. Robin Dickman had 572, Diane Hoover 550, Carla Siebenaller 499, Pat Cook 481, Sandy Hufford 476 and Heather Butler 476. Zach Gaietto rolled a 708, Greg Elchert 602, Tyson Shope 598, Ken Lofton 595 and Harry Smith 571 in the Wednesday Morning League.
Steve Barnes shot 646, Eric Smith 618, Ed Conrad 579, Rhonda Fitch 459 and Robin Brownell 428 in the Twilight League. Scores from the Imperial-Majorette League included Steve Steinmetz Jr. 610, Jeff Peer 582, Steve Steinmetz Sr. 576, Deb Nominee 524, Rhonda Fitch 471 and Linda Brookes 458.
The 55 Plus League is back in action at the K of C Lanes and Paul Gosche led the way this week with a 616. John Ferstler had 530, Bob Reinhart 529, Mike Ditslear 512 and Jim Ruess 501. In the Rocket League Tyson Shope posted a 608, while John Funk shot 600, Tim Sturgill 588, Dave Hohman 572, Dottie Funk 487 and Sue Coppus 417.
As for the Sportsman League, Greg Tiell had games of 257-232-267 for his 756 series. Rich Yates Jr. shot 689, Chris Peck 645, Ron Yentzer 635, Ben Hoyda 634, Harry Smith 633, Kevin Fitch 630 and yours truly - well, I left the lanes smiling!
Al Stephenson is The A-T's bowling columnist.
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