Two years ago, Jimmy Hutchinson went to the Young American Bowling Alliance State Tournament with a hidden advantage.
The tourney splits bowlers into six divisions based on their average during the previous year, and Hutchinson, then 12, had averaged 109 before seeing his mark balloon to 164 by the summer. As a result, he finished second in a class of more than 500 competitors.
Hutchinson led the county contingent in this year's tournament in Melbourne, and this time, there is no asterisk next to his success. The 14-year-old finished first overall out of more than 2,000 bowlers with a nine-game total of 2,004 pins _ good for an average of 222.6.
State competitors could trek to Melbourne on one of six weekends to enter in singles, doubles and team events. Hutchinson and the rest of the group from Spring Hill Lanes were scheduled for the final weekend, ending July 1.
"I kind of liked being on the last weekend because we knew what we needed to get to win," said Hutchinson, who will be a freshman at Central High School this fall. "We didn't really know it going down there, but it ended up working out well."
Hutchinson, who carried a 189 average last season but has been steadily in the 220s this summer, finished second out of 377 entries in the top singles division with a 760 series.
But he wasn't the only county bowler to shine against state competition.
"The Right Stuff," a team comprised of Chris Middleton, Ross Intoci and Scott and Steve Bishop, finished first out of 237 squads in the Division 4 standings. The team totaled 2,793 pins, 51 more than its closest challenger.
Another Hernando squad _ "The Tiggers" (Daniel Moore, Andrew Kamin, Kalee Burgess and Andrew Melton) _ placed seventh with 2,708 pins.
The "Great Balls of Fire" team of Alicia Doane, Jimmy Gibbs and Kelly and Matt Slaga, which bowls out of Mariner Lanes, finished third out of 57 in the top division with a total of 2,438 pins.
In singles, Jodi Moores captured second in her division with a scratch total of 1,663 pins, and Shawn Bowers took third in the top division in handicap total with 2,028 pins.
Bowers also finished third overall in the tournament's Gold event with a total of 1,812 pins. He bowled a 713 series to place 11th in the top division singles competition, which saw Marty Fuqua (29th, 685).
In doubles, Willie Lee and Anndrea Traci finished ninth in the top division with a combined 1,344 pins count, and Tyler Wilson and Paul Bailey took ninth in Division 5 with 1,433.
Traci finished third in the top division in overall handicap scoring, and Wilson placed 29th individually in his division with a 688 series.
Marty Fugua and Shawn Bowers took fourth out of 156 entries in Division I with a combined 1,407 pins total, and Tommy Vasilou and Jacki Redford took 12th with a score of 1,324. Neil Martins and Kerry Esser finished 10th out of 224 teams in Division 2 with 1,394 pins, and Jordan Melton and Kelly Kamin were 10th out of 270 teams in Division 6 with 1,397 pins.
In the team competition, three other Hernando entries finished among the top 10 percent in their classification. In Division 6, "The /Strikers" (Steven Reardon, Kelly Kamin, Dominic Esposito and Jordan Melton) finished eighth, clearing a combined 2,671 pins.
The "Carnies" _ Ashley May, Kyle Harden and Tom and Kathy Krafcik _ took 10th in the Division 2 standings with a total of 2,487 pins. And the "Da Best" squad of Nicholas Correa, Ryan Trottier and Bobby and Andrew Read finished 12th in Division 3 with 2,551 pins, three spots ahead of the "Gator Girls" foursome of Candace Martins, Amanda Hubbard and Sara and Jodi Moores, who totaled 1,523 pins.
For complete results, check out the state YABA's official Web site at http://www.fsyaba.com.