There are many paths to the professional bowling circuit, but Keith Lescalleet probably found one of the best ways: be born into the bowling industry.
His folks once owned Westminster Lanes -- now known as County Lanes. Now 27, Lescalleet started bowling tenpins when he was 12.
Lescalleet already has one of the attributes needed by professional bowlers -- the ability to score big when it counts.
His high series of 781 was thrown in a tournament and netted him a $500 prize. He has a 300 game to his credit and on Sept. 6, in the Friday Night Goodtimers League at County Lanes, he came close to throwing a second 300 game.
Lescalleet, who carried a 191 average last year, banged his 16-pound Phantom bowling ball into the 1-3 pocket for 10 consecutive strikes. On the 11th ball, "I pulled it a little bit," he said. "It crossed over to the Brooklyn side and left the six pin."
Still, that effort was good for a 289 game. His second and third games were 177 and 176 for a 642 series.
Keith, a plumber for the Van Sant Plumbing and Heating Co., lives in Taneytown and also bowls in a Thursday night league at County Lanes, the Friday Night Goodtimers league and in the Saturday night league at Thunderhead Lanes in Taneytown. Atthe Taneytown center, Lescalleet has shot two 700 series.
"If I can average over 190 this year," he said, "I'll think about getting mypro card and trying some of the PBA (Professional Bowlers Association) regional tournaments."
To that end, Lescalleet is working with Danny Haines of the Thunderhead Taneytown pro shop, learning how to drill his own bowling balls.
Lescalleet, always a cranker, has had to make major adjustments with the new system of bowling's 3-units ofoil rule.
"I've had to move inside," Keith said, "With the outside boards no longer dry, the ball doesn't come back into the pocket the way it did last year."
Seems to me Lescalleet's made a great adjustment; a 289 with the season only a few weeks old looks good from here.
Joe Latham of Finksburg, a correctional officer at the Central Laundry Facility in Sykesville, hasn't said anything about turning professional, but he could be thinking about it after his start this season. In the Thursday Night Men's League at Hampstead Bowling Center, Latham threw the 12 consecutive strikes you need for a perfect game. Unfortunately for him, they were spread over two games.
Latham's first game was a 177. Not bad. That's a few pins over his 172 average.
In the second game, he finished with four strikes for a 192 and in the third game, he started with eight more. In the ninth frame the seven pin stood, then Latham threw three more strikes for a 279 game.
"Everyone was rooting for me," Latham said. "But I was just a trifle nervous. It doesn't count, but I did throw 12 in a row."
And 15 out of 16 frames.
No wonder Latham says, "Bowling is a great sport. It's the competition that keeps me bowling. I've been doing it since 1972, and I really enjoy it."
Another bowler at Hampstead Lanes who enjoys bowling is a little younger than Latham.
Michael Bankert is 8 -- but he's been bowling since age 2.
Michael lives in Manchester with his parents, Diane and David Bankert, and he recently entered the third grade at Manchester Elementary. He has an 87 average with a high game of 142 and a high set of more than 320. That's duckpins, folks.
That average is creeping up on his mother's 115 average and his father's 118.
"I started taking Michael tothe bowling center when he was younger than (2), but he started bowling when he was 2 years old," Diane Bankert said. "It's just this year that Michael started bowling one-handed. In the summer league, he started using just the one hand. The end of this month, on Sundays, Michael and I will be bowling together in the adult/youth league."
Just how good is Michael, who started bowling in league play at the age of 5 and never used the bumpers that many of the younger bowlers use?
"He pretty much dominated the summer league," said Ginny Blackowitz of Hampstead Lanes.
The league Michael and his mother will take part in on Sundays is a special short-season affair that starts Sept. 29 and ends Dec. 29. It's $12 per team of two each week, with a 3p.m. staring time and free shoes for the youth bowlers.
Another new league at Hampstead is the Humpday Mixed on Wednesdays. The leaguestarts this week with three members per team in a handicap format.
Colorama continues at Hampstead Lanes Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. and Saturdays at 8:45 p.m. Cost on Thursday is $5, which includes three games of bowling, free shoe rental and free coffee. Under the right conditions -- with the colored pins in certain position and a strike thrown -- a single payoff could be $30.
On Saturday night, the cost is $6 with the same format available.