Duckpins or tenpins, take your choice. Harford County has a bowling champion in each sport.
On Nov. 18 Chuck King of Abingdon was the winner of the first annual U.S. Youth Duckpin Invitational Championship tournament.
And last Sunday, Monayalo Webster of Aberdeen won the boys scratch division in the 10th annual Maryland Tenpin Bowling Council tournament.
The duckpin championship was played at Westview Fair Lanes in Baltimore. Youth bowlers from throughout the East competed.
In the semifinals King defeated another Maryland bowler, Buddy Nichols of Brookeville, 147-117.
King opened with a strike against Nichols and never gave up the lead; he had three strikes and three spares, counting well on all his marks.
King, 20, is a junior at Towson State University, where he is working toward an accounting degree. His stats: high game 216, high set 519, with a 140 average in the Saturday Morning NDYA league at Greenway East and the Sunday Youth Travel league.
He has been bowling since he was 3 years old. Did I mention that he had a world record 149 Major Boys Division average one year? He did.
Besides having a full academic schedule, King works 30 hours a week as a researcher for Tritonics in Abingdon. And every Saturday morning you'll find Chuck coaching the 7- to 9-year-old prep division duckpin bowlers.
In the final, he was up against 14-year-old Luke Robustelli of Forestville, Conn., for the championship. (Name ring a bell? That's right, Luke is the grandson of Andy Robustelli, the National Football League Hall of Famer who played with the New York Giants.) King came out of the gate like a rocket; five spares in the first five frames. The rest of the game he coasted, winning 148-97.
Did this young man have anything profound to say about his victory?
When asked for a comment, he never mentioned the championship.
He just said, "I would like to see duckpins get more recognition."
With young bowlers like Chuck King, I can guarantee it.
Last Sunday's Maryland Tenpin Bowling Council championship was at Turner's Dual Lanes in Hagerstown, Washington County. Forty-one of the top high school seniors from across the state competed for $7,000 in scholarship funds.
There were four first place awards of $1,000 and four runner-up awards of $750 in four divisions: boys scratch, boys handicap, girls scratch and girls handicap.
Stephanie Lazor of Pasadena, Anne Arundel County, won the girls scratch averaging 195 in the six-game event. Paula Cinelli, also from Pasadena, was second with a total 1,055.
In the girls handicap division, Dawn Burgess of Frederick had a total of 1,377 (scratch score of 879) to take first place; Melissa Dombkiewicz of Bowie, Prince George's County, totaled 1,318 (scratch score of 802).
Harry Crossland of Frostburg, Allegany County, racked up 1,346 (scratch 956) to win the boys handicap division. Eric Johns of Baltimore had a scratch of 117, and totaled 1,339 for second place.
Kenny Konopacki of Baltimore was second in the bonus scratch division with 1,135 total pinfall.
The young man they call "Money" Webster took his his first place scholarship in the boys scratch division with a powerful 1,267 series and an average of 211 for the six games.
Webster, who bowls at Harford Lanes, says he will be putting the $1,000 toward his education at the University of Maryland.
"The tournament (Sunday) was just the start for this season of bowling.
I plan to keep on bowling well and to collect more scholarships in other tournaments," he said.
Webster bowls in the Harford Junior Classic League, the Saturday High School League (both at Harford Lanes in Aberdeen), and the Saturday Travel League. He works part-time as a Harford Lanes mechanic and throws a Red Rhine ball for an 185 average. His high game is 289 and high series 756. He was second in the Coca-Cola state finals, second in the running for the Harford bowler of the year and a member of the Harford Lanes All-Star team three years in a row (captain for two of those years).
This Aberdeen High School senior has a dream, he told me. "I love to bowl, and one day I hope to make it to the Professional Bowlers Tour."
He'll make it. Bet on it.
From time to time, I have bowlers who are upset because honor scores are not sanctioned by the American Bowling Congress. Understandable. Someone throws a high game, a high series, it is very often a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Then to have it disqualified is very upsetting. The bowler asks, "Why?"
The key point is whether an honor score is earned through the skill of the bowler or aided by illegal lane conditioning or equipment. The ABC cannot recognize the illegal score or reward the bowler, according to rules made by the bowlers, and it will continue to reject such scores in order to maintain the integrity of the sport.