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So it never strikes twice? // Try 3 times

It's what you call eXXXXXXXXXXXXcellence. On a bowling scoresheet, a strike is recorded by the marking of an X. Perfection for a game is a score of 300. Twelve strikes in a row. Dozen Xs.

A super bowl.

But if we multiply that 12 times 3, indicating the knocking down of 36 consecutive racks of tenpins, it becomes a beyond-belief accomplishment.

It's probably akin to a golfer making three holes-in-one during a single round or a baseball player slugging five homers in nine innings of work. Stuff that's yet to be done.

But on a sizzling Sunday in the deep freeze of Nebraska's winter, college sophomore Jeremy Sonnenfeld struck three dozen times without a miss, rolling "The Perfect Series," a three-game set of 300-300-300 _ 900.

A sugary bowl.

"This is totally unfathomable to me," said the 20-year-old business major from Sioux Falls, S.D. "I hit the 1-3 pocket every time, but every shot I threw wasn't perfect. I had a lot of good breaks."

Nebraska's Cornhuskers aren't just a college football power, they're big in bowling. Sonnenfeld chose the university because of its tenpin prominence. He's never gone up against Steve Spurrier but, as a freshman, Jeremy helped the Huskers win a national championship.

Sonnenfeld has a 200-plus average. He had bowled seven 300s before Sunday. His previous high three-game series was 826.

Almost everybody has bowled. Touring pros roll thousands of games in a year. Almost 5-million regular league bowlers average 100-plus games.

A recent Market Facts survey suggests that 91-million people go bowling at least once in 12 months. Supposedly, in their lifetimes, about 222-million Americans have tried it at least once.

If you've ever had a double (back-to-back strikes) or a turkey (three straight), it becomes a little easier to comprehend the magnitude of what Sonnenfeld did in a Lincoln bowling house with the unlikely name of Sun Valley.

There has never been a 900 series sanctioned by the American Bowling Congress. "Everything appears in order for Sonnenfeld's to be the first," Mark Miller of Bowling Inc. told the Times.

A recent Market Facts survey estimates that 3-billion lines are rolled annually in the United States. Last year, the American Bowling Congress sanctioned 32,097 perfect games. That makes the odds 100,000-to-1 against rolling 300.

Odds against 300-300-300?

Billions and billions.

Highest set ever to be sanctioned was 899. A pair of 300 games plus a 299. Thirty-five strikes in 36 attempts, the lone misfire coming at the end of a game. Tom Jordan had the first 899 in 1989 at Union, N.J. It was matched twice in 1996, by Ron Prettyman in Newark, Del., and Steve Lewis in Xenia, Ohio.

But now, Sonnenfeld's 900.

Actually, two bowlers had previously rolled three consecutive 300s, but neither amateur Troy Ockerman nor pro Norm Duke met ABC specifications.

Ockerman did it in 1993 at Owosso, Mich., but the ABC disallowed the claim because he rolled two perfect games but then took a break before getting a third 300 in another session.

Duke had 300-300-300 in April 1996 at North Brunswick, N.J., but the ABC refused to sanction it as a 900 series because it was amid a standard eight-game PBA Tour block.

"An unusual factor is that (Sonnenfeld) bowled on three different pairs of lanes, getting one 300 on each," Miller said. "Most times, a series is rolled on just one pair. But this is entirely legal."

All the jumping around makes Sonnenfeld's 900 even more incredible. He could not lock in on one set of bowling conditions. "I had to go from pair to pair," he told the Lincoln Journal

and Star. "Had to figure them out. Makes it even more difficult."

A peachy bowl.