The county's youth bowlers will have an opportunity to enjoy a new level of competition this fall as Mariner Lanes in Spring Hill opens a Junior Olympic Gold league, restricted to youths with an average of 160 or better.
"It should be much more competitive, and better than bowling with handicapped scores," said Tiffany Hicks, 16, whose 186 average is one of the county's highest among youth bowlers. "It will be the first time we've had a scratch league all to ourselves, so it's pretty exciting."
Hicks, a rising junior at Springstead High, was the top bowler on the Eagles' team last season. Last month, she reset her highest game with a 236 in Mariner's Thursday night Domino's Dominators league.
The Junior Olympic Gold league will bowl on Sunday nights beginning in September, and while only the first 40 bowlers will be guaranteed a spot, it's unlikely such a cut will be necessary. According to the county's Young American Bowling Alliance yearbook, only 11 youth bowlers carried 160 averages or better last year. This wouldn't account for other youths who do not bowl in YABA-sanctioned leagues.
Mariner's top youth bowler this summer has been James Sauer, 17, who carries a 204 average with a high game of 288 and a high series of 715. Travis Haynes is second with a 199 average, followed by Bobby Frenger at 189.
Registration for Mariner's youth league will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 14, with bowlers getting a free game that day with registration.
Spring Hill Lanes said Wednesday it has no plans for a youth scratch league, but will continue its Saturday morning program along with a youth-adult league on Sunday nights that would go directly up against Mariner's league. Early registration for its youth leagues begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, and any bowlers who register then or on Aug. 14 and pay the proper sanctioning fees will receive five free games from Spring Hill.
SWITCHING OVER: Kevin Williams, who had spent 10 years in Mariner's pro shop, left last month to take over the pro shop at Spring Hill Lanes. Kevin's Pro Shop has done "very well" in its first month of business, Williams said. The shop is open 1 p.m to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday.
SPRINGSTEAD TRYOUTS: Tryouts for the Springstead High boys and girls bowling teams will be at 3 p.m. Aug. 17-19 at Mariner Lanes in Spring Hill. Any Springstead student is welcome to try out, and participants' scores from the three days will be used, along with their academic standing, to decide who makes the team. Springstead opens its season Aug. 23.
HIGH SCORES: Robert Brand not only had the high youth game in Spring Hill's Flammer Ford Youth-Adult league last week, he topped all the adults as well with his 257. His 669 series also trumped the men's high series of 638 bowled by Jay Tinkham, who had the men's high game with a 245. Athena Sikes led the women with a 201 game and 515 series.
Edie Jo Norman bowled a 259 game and 713 series in Mariner's 580 Cap Trio league; Joe Tanner topped the men with a 279 game and 769 series. Todd Brower had a 276 game and 726 series in Mariner's Mavericks league. Other high games at Mariner last week included those of Joe Acone (266), Rod Williams (266), Stan Boissonnault (263), Clint Bullock (247), Johnnie King (246) and Dan Urban (245). Jim Umsted Jr. (721) and Jay Olsen (706) also had 700 series.
At Spring Hill Lanes, the week's top men's games came from Bob Brusati (279), Bob Teschko (279) and Billy Shiver (267). Dani Storms (231), Kelly Rhineberger (223), Lynn Bernhardt (221) and Lee Sente (215) posted the top women's scores. Joe Pereira (710), Al Weirich (710) and Richard Logiudice (706) had the only 700 series.