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Bowler bags bragging rights with perfect game — at just 9

LARGO

Not many people can say they have bowled a perfect 300 game, and fewer still have only six of their adult teeth. Hannah Diem, 9, recently became the youngest member of the United States Bowling Congress to bowl a 300 during a youth and adult tournament.

"I was screaming, (my mom) was sobbing," Hannah said about the perfecto. "It was too much. It was processing in my brain right then, and it was, 'Okay, you got it.' It was like a mix of excitement and still processing it."

Hannah, one of 18 members of the Liberty Bombers youth bowling team at Liberty Lanes, bowled 12 consecutive strikes. At 9 years, 6 months and 19 days old, she beat the previous record of 10 years and 2 months by Chaz Dennis of Ohio in 2006.

"I was shaking and my heart was beating like 5,000 miles per hour," Hannah said. When she arrived for the tournament that evening, she was feeling under the weather and didn't know if she should compete.

"I said, 'Why don't you just warm up and see how it goes?' " her mother, Heidi Diem, said.

It went well. Using her oil-spill-colored Arson ball, Hannah racked up a 204 during her first game, followed by a 226 for her second. Before going into her third set, she turned to her mother and asked when she thought she would bowl her first 300 game.

Maybe next year, Heidi Diem predicted. "It's so funny after that second game," her mother said. "I was moved. She just turned to me and asked me that question, and I (imagined) that a 300 game was something bowled by the older kids and adults."

Her prediction of "next year" was shattered as her daughter sent a hook shot splintering into the pins.

Hannah, who lives in Seminole and attends Madeira Beach Fundamental Elementary School, began bowling 3 1/2 years ago after being inspired at a friend's birthday bowling party.

"I loved it. I just knew it wanted to do it," she said.

She took up practicing on an after-school team. Every Wednesday she trains with her coach, James "J.C." Crouch, for an hour with a group of teammates. During her total time with Crouch, Hannah's average has soared to a 162 from the 42 she had when she first trained without bumpers.

"She's really taken to it," he said.

In 2012, Hannah took first place at the Florida State Youth Tournament. A 300 game, she said, is just her starting point. She is still shooting for a 750 in a tournament and plans to compete at the national level in 2014.

Thanks to points racked up during her local and state wins, next summer Hannah will head to Buffalo, N.Y., to compete in the North Pointe Junior Gold Championships. It's the farthest she has traveled to compete. Though she's excited, Hannah won't let her nerves get the best of her.

"One frame at a time," she said.

Bowler bags bragging rights with perfect game — at just 9 12/03/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 3:48pm]
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