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Crystal River man works to get over 299 hump

Frank Mendicino is strangely drawn to the number 299, at least when he is bowling.

Mendicino rolled a 299 at Parkview Lanes on Oct. 28. He left the 5-pin.

The 52-year-old recorded 299 again, at Manatee Lanes in December. This time, he left the 10-pin.

Do we see a pattern here?

It gets worse.

Mendicino has shot five 299s and left four 10-pins and one 5-pin.

Do you have any idea about the odds against bowling five 299s?

Mendicino is rather philosophical about just missing the perfect game.

"The 300 eludes me," Mendicino said.

"I feel good about the 299s. It's just the way the pins fall," he said. "They haven't been falling my way."

Mendicino lives in Crystal River and has his own business, Frank's Auto Center, in Inverness.

He has two grown children. Frank, 34, lives in Holder and works at Wal-Mart. Johnny, 30, is a computer engineer and lives in Miami.

Mendicino originally is from Port Chester, N.Y. He first started bowling when he was 35.

"I came down to Florida to get away from the havoc of New York City," Mendicino said. "Port Chester is 30 miles from New York and next to Connecticut."

He moved to Crystal River 28 years ago. That's when the 299 games began, and they have all been in Florida.

"My thinking is one of these days I am going to get a 300 game," he said.

Mendicino bowls in five leagues. All of his averages are over 200. He competes at Manatee Lanes, Parkview Lanes and Neffers.

"I do a lot of practicing," Mendicino said. "I have a good friend by the name of Bill Spreen. We do a lot of bowling together. He said it (300) just eludes me."

Mendicino never has posted an 800 series. He has had a 777. He said he never has tried using 299 in the lotto.

"I probably should, though," Mendicino said.

Flirting with a perfect game leaves Mendicino feeling the same way each time.

"It is a quick letdown," he said. "I would say to myself, "I don't believe it.' Then, life goes on and you try again."

Mendicino said he is grateful to John Gibbs, who owns the Manatee Lanes pro shop.

"He is a very nice man," Mendicino said. "I get my equipment there. He drills my bowling balls. He is very giving. He helps me a lot.

"It's time to call me Mr. 299," Mendicino said.

Of course, Mendicino doesn't want that moniker. He just wants a 300 game and an 800 series like any other accomplished bowler.

SPRING HILL LANES: Spring Hill will play host to the 36th annual Florida State Seniors Tournament

on Saturday and Sunday, as well as Jan. 15-16.

Bowlers 55-and-over will be competing. Play begins at 9 a.m., and the last squad starts at 5 p.m.

There are no entries available, but there is a possibility of substitutes being needed. For information, call (352) 683-7272.

SUPER DOUBLES TOURNAMENT: The event is scheduled for Jan. 15 at Beverly Hills Bowl.

Check-in is at 6 p.m., with competition starting at 7.

For information, call Beverly Hills Bowl, (352) 527-1200; or Bob Hacker, (352) 465-0828.

LEAGUES STARTING: There are two leagues opening at local centers.

The Tuesday Nite Mixed Bowling League begins 7 p.m. on Jan. 11 at Beverly Hills Bowl.

The four-person mixed league will last for 17 weeks. For information, call the center, (352) 527-1200; or Dee Smith, (352) 212-6133.

There will be a Monday Nite Mixed League at Parkview Lanes in Holder.

This is a four-person mixed league that starts 7 p.m. on Monday. For information, call C.H. Crockett, (352) 489-6933; or Smith.

_ If you have bowling announcements, information or comments, contact Larry Bugg at