Some of the top bowlers from Bel Air Bowl will be off to San Antonio, Texas, in August competing in the national finals of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America Family/Adult-Child Bowling Tournament.
Among the locals headed to the event are Derrick Smith and his father, George, and Kris Courtney and his mother, Ginny.
They will compete for the $20,000 in scholarship money available.
On May 23 at Elk Lanes in Elkridge, the Smith father/son team and the Courtney mother/son team won their respective divisions in the state finals. That sent them to the national finals in Texas.
After a three-game qualifying round at Bel Air Bowl in early May, the Smiths and the Courtneys had to bowl six games against the top qualifiers from other bowling centers to earn the right to compete on the national level.
Derrick Smith is 9 years old, and he and his father competed in the Parent/Youth 12-and-Under division. With their handicaps, the Smiths totaled 2,444 pins to capture first place.
"We started bowling about three years ago," said Derrick's mother, Donna Smith.
"It's something we can do as a family, and yet you can compete as an individual."
And compete they do. Donna, the only woman in the NABI televised finals last year, finished third. George and Donna bowl on the same nights in the winter season at Bel Air Bowl, Tuesday and Friday, and Derrick bowls in the Saturday morning youth leagues at that center.
George, employed at Edgewood Arsenal, has a 157 average. Derrick has a 80 average and Donna has upped her average to 172 this past season.
Derrick attends Bel Air Elementary school. A third-grader, he has a high game of 137 and a high set of 314.
As for Kris and Ginny Courtney, they were winners of the Parent/Teen 13-to-18 division. The whole family plans to travel to Texas to cheer them on.
Kris, who celebrates his 16th birthday this month, has been bowling since he was 3.
This year, he carried the highest average -- 179 -- for the major division of the youth league at Bel Air Bowl. The Bel Air High School student has a high game of 267 and a high set of 682; that 682 was thrown this year.
Ginny has seen her average increase from the winter season 190 to 211 in the summer leagues.
"Joe Bonney [pro shop owner] shortened the span on my grip on my new Thunderbolt dual-block bowling ball," Ginny said. "I'm scoring a lot better with it."
Lynne Heller of Belcamp isn't complaining. That's not the nature the surgical nurse at Francis Scott Key Hospital. Still, it was tough to lose after she battled her way to the second-seeded position of the Miller Duckpin Classic at Greenway East in Baltimore May 23-24. She lost in the last frame.
Pat Loomis of Overlea threw a triple-header in the 10th frame to defeat Heller, 148-125.
Heller, coming off a victory in the doubles tournament at Pinland with her bowling partner, Kenny Mumaw, never lost her cheerful disposition after the loss.
"Duckpin bowling is just great," she said. "It's a family sport, and you get to meet people from all walks of life."
Heller's husband, David, has a 136 average. I suspect it won't be long until sons Ryan, 5, and Bret, 3, will be on the lanes.
Heller is currently averaging 139 with a high game of 226 and high set of 510 -- impressive figures even for someone, like Heller, who has been "bowling forever."