The National Duckpin Bowling Congress released the rankings of the leading men and women duckpin bowlers in the United States last week.
Those average-rankings revealed Carroll County as a dominating factor in the duckpin world.
Of the 20 numerically ranked and eight honorable mentioned men bowlers, Carroll County residents accounted for four ranked and one honorable mention bowlers.
Jon Owens of Sykesville was No. 1 with a 153.859 average for 290 games and a 44,619 total pin fall. Owens does his bowling at Fair Lanes Westview and is a regional manager for Baltimore Uniform Rental Inc. His wife, Carla, averages 111 and his son, Stephen, 4, is averaging 88.
"You never expect something like this," Owens said, "It's a humbling experience."
Jim Reisberg, another Sykesville resident, placed 10th with a 148.548 average for 303 games and a total pin fall of 45,548.
Reisberg bowls in the Monday 540 Men's Commercial league at Fair Lanes Rolling Road and in the Wednesday Majors at Joe Rineer's Mount Airy lanes.
Reisberg is a carpenter by trade and has been bowling since he was 16 years old. His high game is 237 and his high set is 554; that 237 is the house record at Mount Airy lanes.
A few years ago, Reisberg went to a lighter bowling ball -- 3 pounds, 9 ounces -- and it seems to have made him a more effective bowler. Last year he was ranked 13th in the nation.
"I'm getting closer (to the number one position)," Reisberg said.
Joe Rineer said, "Jim's steady, very steady."
Dave Noyes of Manchester is ranked 15th with a 147.731 average, total pin fall of 57,024 for 386 games; that's up from 17th last year.
Noyes does his bowling at Thunderhead Westminster in the Monday Night Triples and the Thursday Night Majors, and, of course, bowls in the pro tour.
His high game is 254, his high set is an awesome 609; he does it with a 3-pound, 12-ounce ball and he's been doing it since he was 5 years old.
Noyes works for the Sweetheart Cup Corp. as shift leader and raises satin rabbits.
This year, Noyes has his average up to 150 in both leagues. How did he raise the average?
"I'm concentrating on shooting my spares," Noyes said, giving advice that could help any bowler, tenpin or duckpin. "That's the only thing that I am doing differently."
Rineer said simply, "Dave has a lot of confidence on the lanes."
Jim Houge of Eldersburg was ranked 17th with a 147.110 average in 291 games with a total pin fall of 42,809.
Houge does his bowling in the Monday Mixed Quad league at Fair Lanes Westview and has a high game of 226 and a high series of 550.
He's been bowling for about 20 years now and he'll change weight with his bowling balls, throwing a 3-pound, 10-ounce first and second ball and going to a 3-pound, 12-ounce ball for his third ball.
Houge is a mechanic for Ditch Witch of Maryland and this is the first time he's been ranked nationally; for the 1989-1990 season he was ranked 13th in the Baltimore area.
Curtis Johnson -- everyone calls him Curt -- has lived in Mount Airy for a short while with his wife, Kathleen, and he received honorable mention for his 147.654 average on 286 games with a total pin fall of 42,229.
Johnson drives a truck for Kraft Foods.
He bowls on Wednesday nights in the Men's 540 Quads at Fair Lanes Westview and Friday night in the 520 Quads at Greenway Glen Burnie. He was ranked 20th nationally last year.
His high game is 224 and high set is 569 and he does it with a 3-pound, 22-ounce bowling ball.
"I really enjoy duckpins," Johnson said, "But I would like to see a little more fun come back to the game. I feel that it's become too cut-throat."
Patty Dowdy-Palmer continues to be ranked nationally; her 136.572 average over the course of 313 games has given her a total pin fall of 42,747. That ranked her 17th in the nation among women bowlers.
Patty, recently married to Alan Palmer, lives in Hampstead and bowls at Westview Fair Lanes. She is a member of the women's pro tour.
* The excitement of professional bowling will come about as close to Carroll as it can when the Fair Lanes $150,000 Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Open will take place at Fair Lanes Kings Point in Randallstown, Baltimore County, Feb. 24 to March 2.
With no centers in Carroll large enough to play host to a professional tournament, area bowlers will have their best chance ever to see the pros at this year-old center just about 4 miles east of the county line on Route 26. In fact, the Randallstown facility is the most convenient for bowlers in the southeastern corner of the county.
"Our 22nd annual PBA stop should be super," said Steve Carley, Fair Lanes president and CEO. "Our stop takes place during the heart of the winter tour, plus we'll be in our most state-of-the-art bowling center."
Fair Lanes will conduct five pro spot qualifiers; amateur bowlers will have the opportunity to qualify for spots in the $150,000 PBA open.