Edwards collects rare 300

Posted: Friday, November 06, 2009

Rich Edwards is a Soldotna Kenai United States Bowling Congress Bowling Association Hall of Fame 2006 inductee. He's the recipient of many USBC game awards, including a pair of 11 strikes in a row plaques.

He's the holder of two doubles titles, one with Roy Wells during the city tournament, and a second title at the very tough and competitive state level. He's the team member of several first-place teams, including the Hall of Fame team.

He's been a board member of the local USBC for the last 20 years and manager for the last four years.

And somewhere in this mountainous list, we need to add (probably at the top), he just rolled a 300 game!

Thursday evening, Dirty Dozen league, team 2 "Gutter Runners," bowler 2, lane 7, approximately 7 p.m.

No matter how detailed I am, nothing can replace being there and seeing it for yourself. Just ask any of the crowd of 50-plus bowlers that clapped, cheered and congratulated Rich for several minutes after he rolled that 12th strike. However, I will do my best to re-create both frames.

I am going to start with the eighth frame, because it is usually the time in bowling when bowlers start watching, whispering and wondering, "Who is that bowler with seven strikes in a row?" It's sometimes referred to as a "seven bagger" in bowling lingo. At this particular time, everybody was starting to notice bowler 2, Rich Edwards.

The eighth frame is when I noticed Ken Liedes come out from behind the corner to see Rich roll the shot. Rich may not have noticed, but he was quickly reeling us in. Using a Danger Zone manufactured by Brunswick, Rich rolled a great shot, getting a strike. All that was left for us to do was go back to our own games and wait patiently for the ninth frame.

It is now the ninth frame, where Rich in the past has met a mountain of resistance. Of his last three attempts at No. 9, Rich said, "I've had eight a number of times and threw good shots in the ninth and left singles 8, 9, 10. ..." This time around the result was much different, as Rich, using his Danger Zone, rolled another terrific shot that exploded the 1-3 pocket and shredded Ken's new set of pins, which were installed Wednesday. The explosion resembled a wrecking ball, taking down a brick wall, and it needed to.

There is a belief and some compelling evidence that new pins have a tendency to lower averages. Basically, what happens is your "strike carry percentage" is lowered, which in turn greatly reduces, or shrinks, your strike zone. As a result, you must be that much more accurate 60 feet down the lane, and believe Rich was, as you will read.

When you enter the 10th frame after rolling nine strikes in a row, it is like entering a new world. There is almost abrupt and significant change in environment. What was once a noisy, dynamic environment is now subdued.

For the 10th and 11th frame, Rich continued his assault on the pairs new set of pins, while venturing deeper and deeper into foreign territory. Rich, who had broke through a major barrier, did so as if it was second nature.

Coaches in many sports will preach consistency. For bowling consistency includes many things, like how you grip the ball, your walk onto the approach, how long you actually take before that first step of the approach, and so on. Rich, for every shot, remained consistent. He continued to rip through the 1-3 pocket, pushing all 10 pins back into the pit and keeping his quest for a 300 game alive.

We have now reached the moment -- the decisive 12th frame. The end of the road, where for Rich if he ventures a little too far to the left or right with the shot and gets something less than a strike, he will be receiving his third 11 in a row plaque from USBC, and be the new leader for high game at Alaskalanes with room to be beat.

Or, he could stay on track.

If a strike is achieved, Rich will come to the end of a 30-year journey that started when his parents introduced him to bowling. He will secure, at the minimum, a share of high game of the year, and a choice of stylish rings from the USBC as a symbol of great achievement and excellence. Rich will be in the history books at USBC under those who have bowled a 300 game, and he has the satisfaction of knowing that he accomplished golf's somewhat equivalent to the 300 game, the hole in one, during the same year. Incredible!

For Alaskalanes, a 300 game would mean the end of a two-and-a-half-year drought. The last 300 game was bowled by Chuck Nibert on March 5, 2007, during the Monday night league.

Whichever way the pins fall or don't fall, both results are awesome accomplishments and very difficult to come by.

When Rich stepped onto the approach for the 12th frame, it was dead silent. If someone would have walked through the front doors you would have heard it, but I doubt anyone would have budged. Karl Liedes, who was in the back ensuring that the machines run well during the league, said, "I knew something must have been up when I did not hear anything going on."

What goes through someone's mind during this type of situation? Rich shares with us, "I was thinking execute the shot just like the previous 11."

As Rich walked down the 15 feet of approach path and eventually released the shot, it was evident early on in the roll that this was a strike shot. Bowler Vickie Aber offers her perspective, "Doyle and I were watching Rich throw that last strike and when he released the ball I said, 'Yes, he did it.' I had watched his other two in the 10th frame and the last strike looked just like the other two. Great.'"

The only thing that would have prevented Rich from getting the strike was if he left the 9-pin standing. Sometimes, when a shot is "too good" what will happen with a bowling ball like the Danger Zone and others in its category is the balls will drive hard through the 1-3 pocket, then into the 5-pin, and exit out of the pin deck area through the 8-pin, never deflecting and taking out the 9.

Karl added, "I knew someone bowled a 300 game when I heard the roar of the crowd from all the way back in the shop."

Rich got his hole in one on April 22, 2009, in St. George, Utah, at The Pointe. He did it on the 150-yard third hole with a 9-iron. When asked about which accomplishment he found to be more gratifying, and harder, Rich replied, "The 300 was more gratifying because I did not see the ball go in on the hole in one, and I've been bowling a whole lot longer than playing golf." As for harder, "The 300 by far! You have to execute the shot 12 times. Hole in one -- one swing."

Rich thanked his parents for getting him started in bowling and added, "I know my Dad would have enjoyed knowing that I accomplished it."

Jocelyn Wells, league secretary, said, "It couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Having known Rich for many years, both on and off the lanes, I can honestly say that he has such a dedication to his interests in golf and bowling as well as his family."

Congratulations, Rich. It was awesome!

Bowler's tip

With the tournament season at Alaskalanes right around the corner, this would be a great time to work on your spare game. Whether you go with the cross-lane method for right-side spares, the 3-6-9 method for left-side spares, or some other system, spares are a big part of the game. Making spares may not be as exciting to watch as seeing 10 pins blown off the deck, but believe me spares are an essential component to doing well in tournaments and in league play.

If you want to get a good practice session in on just shooting spares, ask the staff at Alaskalanes to set up one of the machines to just set up spares. The machines are capable of setting up a wide variety of single and two-pin spares. This also includes splits like the 3-10 or 4-9.

Little bit ...

The oldest bowlers on record to roll a 300 game are Nashville's Nora Martin at age 70 and San Diego's Joe Norris, an American Bowling Congress Hall-of-Famer, at age 86. It was Norris' second 300. He rolled his first in 1927 at the age of 18, the youngest to do so at the time. The 67-year span between perfect games also is a record.

League highlights

Sunday, Youth/Adult, 6 p.m.; Monday, Good Morning Monday, 10 a.m., Marathon won the first quarter, Betty Osborne, Helen Stirman, Jan Erwin, Tigger Newman 653 series; Thursday, Golden Oldies, 1 p.m., Darvin Cousins, 659 series, Fred Jones, 233 game, Monte's Eagles, 7 p.m.; Wednesday, 55-plus, 1 p.m., Cook Inlet Masters, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, Dirty Dozen, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, Golden Oldies, 1 p.m., Wild and Wacky, 6:30 p.m., Peggy Marchant, 243 game with 204, 146 for a 593 series; Saturday, Peninsula Strykers, 10 a.m.

Bowler's Corner is submitted by Randy Stiedl. For questions, comments or suggestions on future topics, e-mail akrms1@yahoo.com.

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