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PERFECTION IS WORTH THE WAIT

As he watched others roll 300 games, Billy Lummus' persistence finally paid off.

It was a long time coming, if you ask Billy Lummus.

While others around him posted perfect games and 800 series over the past few years, Lummus just continued to hover around 200 with his average and stand among the elite.

But that all changed recently when Lummus posted his elusive honor score, the goal of any veteran.

Only 16, Lummus has been competing as a sanctioned United States Bowling Congress bowler since he was 3. Back then, he bowled in a youth league at Leisure Lanes in Port Richey, where his parents, Kim and Billy Lummus Sr., became youth bowling coaches.

"He had been asking us every day to play baseball, and we kept telling him that he was too young," Kim Lummus said. "It just so happened we were walking into the bowling alley one day, and that's what we got him into."

Ever since that day, young Billy hasn't left the lanes. He and his sister Alicia, 12, compete in youth leagues on the weekends during the school year and whenever they can during the summer. Bowling became the pre-eminent hobby in Lummus' life. And although he still loves baseball and school, the sport has become a priority.

"Bowling is my sport," he said. "Everyone wants to be great at their sport, and I am no different."

He's also a huge Tampa Bay Rays fan, and his work as a junior at Nature Coast Technical High School has his parents gushing. With advanced classes, a high grade-point average and entrance into the school's law program, Lummus may graduate a year early. His intentions are to eventually go to the University of Florida.

To help him get there, he plans to rely on his bowling. Youth tournaments around the state and locally provide participants who place with scholarship money. Between that success and the Bright Futures scholarship he hopes to receive from the state because of his solid academic standing, becoming a Gator is a realistic goal.

Even with all the personal heights he is reaching in life, Lummus still feels a void when talk shifts to bowling. He was a member of the Nature Coast state champion bowling program as a freshman. The Sharks won the state title, and then, as a result of budget cuts, the sport was cut his sophomore year. The team is back now, with Lummus as one of its best competitors.

He has sat back as others around him - close friends - have accomplished goals he never seemed to reach. Perfect games and 800 series were always in the back of Lummus' mind, but he joked that he would be the 80-year-old man who finally tossed his first 300 game.

After 13 years on the lanes, he had seen many before him flirt with perfection. But when his chance finally was within grasp, his knees knocked, and he was overcome with a serious case of the butterflies.

He just tried to keep his cool and maintain the same approach.

"The adrenaline was pumping through me," Lummus said. "I felt so slow and out of energy. I just kept trying to throw the same shot."

It was the last night of the Summer Elite Trio League at Spring Hill Lanes. His mother and sister watched anxiously as Lummus had the night of his life.

He finished with a 770 series, his highest scratch total ever, and in the first game of the night, he climbed the mountaintop, scoring a perfect 300.

Someday, Lummus may graduate from Florida and become a lawyer. Or he may become a professional bowler. But nothing will ever take away the memory of that Wednesday night in August, when he did what so few who bowl ever do: reach perfection.

Fast facts

Billy Lummus

Age: 16

School: Junior at Nature Coast Technical High School

U.S. Bowling Congress Records:

High game: 300 in Summer Trio Elite League, Spring Hill Lanes (Aug. 5, 2009)

High series: 770 in Summer Trio Elite League, Spring Hill Lanes (Aug. 5, 2009)

High average: 214 in Summer Trio Elite League, Spring Hill Lanes (2008-09)

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