Bowler Justin Stephens ready to match his age in his perfect 300 output
You’ve probably heard of very good senior-citizen golfers shooting their age for an 18-hole round.
Now a not-anywhere-near-senior-citizen-age guy is looking at the bowling version of that.
Justin Stephens, 39, rolled his 36th perfect 300 game at River Rock Lanes in Ishpeming on Oct. 17. He’s thinking he like to try for something special when he turns 40 in April.
“Maybe I can match my age in 300 games,” the Negaunee resident said.
This latest 300 was one of two bowled on the same night in the Tuesday Major League. He was joined by 20-year-old Matt Kilberg, who rolled his second perfect 12-striker.
Stephens used a 15-pound Roto Grip Dare Devil Trick reactive resin ball in his middle game, which included a 256 opener and only 157 closing game for a 713 series.
“I started out throwing pretty well, I had the first seven (strikes) the first game,” Stephens said. “I’ve been struggling early a lot of nights, so I wanted to try a little different strategy — start strong. So I played more to the right (side of the lane) the first game. It worked for two games.
“But once it got away from me, it really went bad. I think I had four splits the third game.”
He said bowling this many 300s never gets old — “That’s the goal when you start every game, see if you can shoot 300.”
Kilberg nearly turned around Stephens’ series, starting with 172, then adding 300 before finishing with 225 for a 697.
Kilberg, who’s set to turn 21 in the next week or two, used a new 15-pound Storm Sure Lock resin ball.
“I just got it drilled that afternoon. I hadn’t thrown it at all,” he said.
Which he added explained his slow start — “I had to get the feel of it.”
He said it’s a ball with a “mellow” reaction that is more predictable and without such a harsh hook at the end.
“I was able to move to a spot on the lane where no one else was,” he said, explaining he could play closer to the gutter with a straighter line up the lane. “It has a nice gradual movement.”
His first 300 came last December, about a year after an 800 he rolled, all in the Tuesday Major.
One other bowler who fits right between Kilberg and Stephens in age rolled the first 300 this season at River Rock back on Sept. 19 — in the same Tuesday Major League.
Glenn Ayotte, 30, also got his 300 in the second game with a series much like Kilberg’s — 152, 300 and 226 for 678 — using his 15-pound DV8 Diva Pearl resin ball, a ball he shot 300 with last season, too.
“The first game I used three different balls, I just couldn’t get lined up,” Ayotte said just before rolling his 16th perfecto. “I pulled out the Diva Pearl and was going to throw it on the fill (final) ball of the first game. Then I left a split and didn’t get a chance to.”
So he came out cold with the ball, just guessing where he should throw it. Betcha he got lined up pretty quick, eh?
He had a good idea of where to throw it, saying it’s the ball among 10 he has in his lockers at River Rock that goes the longest down the lane before hooking.
Up through the end of October, there were also a couple of 299s I heard about at River Rock.
Steve Windahl of Ishpeming left a 10-pin on his final shot in the Tuesday Major on Sept. 26, while Duane Rantala of Ishpeming left a 7-pin on his last ball in the Monday Industrial Road Machinery Supply League on Oct. 30.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.