County bowlers did so well at the state finals of the National Junior Bowling Championships in La Vale that they raised some eyebrows.
"Three out of four finalists again this year were from Anne Arundel County. Is it something in the water down there?" asked Meri Mallette, spokeswoman for the Maryland State Young American Bowling Alliance.
In the Girls Grades 9-12 Handicap Division, Rachael Kiessling, bowling out of Greenway Odenton, rolled a 192 scratch game (199 overall) to defeat division leader Bonita Harbaugh to finish first.
ChrisUsher of Gambrills, bowling out of Crofton Centre, won the Boys Grades 9-12 Handicap division by defeating Allen Wiherle of Dundalk. He had a scratch 236 game against Wiherle's 197.
Kendra Cameron, a Crofton Centre bowler, earned her way to the nationals for the third time. She came out of third place to defeat Roshelle Brown of Harford County, 232-167, then Tina Fick of Bowl America Glen Burnie, 203-171.
Cameron then defeated the division leader, Kathi Brady of Bowl America Odenton, in a cliff-hangerfinish, 195-193.
Anyone who follows the youth bowlers of Anne Arundel knows that Cameron is one of the outstanding bowlers in the area and a leader for Anne Arundel County Youth Bowler of the Year.
Kiessling also will go to Indianapolis forthe national finals in July, where she will compete against bowlers from all 50 states, six Canadian provinces, Puerto Rico and the European, Far East and Caribbean military commands.
Kiessling, 14, lives in Severn with her parents, Fay and Larry. She's in the ninth gradeat Old Mill High.
She picked the right time to throw her career-high single game, 199. The 107-average bowler tossed her game to win the title. She's been bowling since 1989.
Her mother, Fay, who carries a 155 average and is a certified instructor, said, "Her coach, Linda Blecher, has done a wonderful job of instructing Rachael. I'm notallowed to coach Rachael, but the youth program is just grand."
Usher, 15, bowls at Crofton Centre in the youth league on Saturday mornings and carries a 145 average with a high game of 254 and a high series of 605. A bowler for only two years, he lives in Gambrills and attends Arundel High.
He uses three different weight bowling balls -- a 15- or 16-pound first ball and a 13-pounder to pick up his spares. It seems to work just great.
If there is something in the county water, it works for duckpin bowlers, too.
Diane Hobbs, 16, bowling in the Youth Duckpin Travel League at Fair Lanes Southwest, threw games of 155-149-146 for an fantastic 450 series for her career high.
Her high game is 174 and she carries a 122 average. It's difficult to carry an average that high because the league travels a five-center circuit. The bowlers don't compete at home every week as in other leagues.
Hobbs has been picked as a Star of the Year by the Women's National Duckpin Association, the Duckpin Professional Bowlers Association and the National Duckpin Youth Association.
Those organizations recognize the top five girls and boys in each NDYA age division who bowl the highest scratch game during the fall/winter season as WNDA/DPBA/NDYA Stars of the Year.
Her game of 174 earned her fifth place in the Major Girls Division.
April scores at FairLanes Southwest were impressive:
* Doug Gosewich had a 203 game and a 507 set.
* Will Lawrence threw a 180 game.
* Chris Johnsonhad a 470 set.
* Donnie Sauter threw eight marks in a row for a 190 game.
* Craig Mazztenta rolled a 198 game with a 490 series.
* Heather Brunner had a great 212 game.
* Gil Cavey powered a 194game.
* Mike Burnett in House Major Men's League bowled a 196 game and 548 series.
* Otts Hoffman had a 192 game.
Those kind of scores can get anybody's attention. They certainly attracted theattention of Gwen Morel.
On May 2, she unloaded a powerful 191 game. Morel works at the snack bar part time at Fair Lanes Southwest and said, "I guess I've been bowling for about 30 years. It ranks rightup there with bingo."
She's had a 193 game and a high series of 484, but the 191 is good enough for high game for the Thursday MorningLadies League.
"I knew I had a good game going when I threw the four-bagger," she said. "And while I'm not out for blood, I just enjoythe game. It was great to have the high game for the league."
Donald G. Vitek's Bowling column appears every Thursday in the Anne Arundel County Sun. Bowlers are urged to give Don a call with scores and tidbits at 247-0850.