Harford County's Walker, Akins finish eighth in San Antonio

BOWLING

September 12, 1993|By DON VITEK

Debbie Walker and Tyrone Akins represented Maryland in the adult/teen division at the Mendes/Bowling Proprietors Association of America National Family Tournament in San Antonio.

That partnership led to an eighth-place finish and a $500 scholarship for Akins.

Pairs competed for shares of the $26,200 scholarship fund in four divisions. BPAA and Mendes co-sponsored the event, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America promoted the tournament through a partnership with BPAA.

If you know Walker, you're probably trying to figure out why she wasn't bowling with her son, Kevin.

Akins had the answer: "I knew that Kevin was bowling with his grandfather, and I work with Debbie at Harford Lanes, and she's a good bowler, so I asked her to be my partner, and she said yes."

Akins picked one of the better female bowlers in Harford County, one who just finished second in the 32nd Harford Lanes Invitational tournament in July.

With a 174 average, throwing a 14-pound Sumo bowling ball, Walker has a high game and set of 257 and 638, respectively.

A native of Harford County, Walker lives in Havre de Grace and bowls in two leagues at Harford Lanes, the Thursday Twilighters and the Friday Ladies Classic.

She said of the tournament: "It was something that we'll never forget, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to bowl against the best in the nation. It may happen again, but for it to happen once was just fantastic."

For Akins, 14, a freshman at Aberdeen High School, it was a chance to see what the kids in the rest of the country are doing.

Akins, bowling in the Saturday YABA league at Harford Lanes, carries a 142 average. Bowling since he was 11, he has a high game of 203 and a high series of 525. When he isn't in school or on the lanes, he's working behind the snack bar at Harford Lanes.

The modest young man is quick to point out that much of his success on the lanes is due to the coaching of Tyrone Huff, a certified coach for the YABA at Harford Lanes.

"He's a great kid," said Bob Marshall, manager of Harford Lanes. "His bubbly personality makes him friends with everybody."

The event at San Antonio set a tough pace: three games on Friday,

three more on Saturday morning and seven games at the Saturday night finals.

What was Akins' reaction to all this?

"It was great!"

Piling up the mileage

Every week during the bowling season, Cliff Johnson of Street covers a large part of two counties and on weekends, bowling in National Amateur Bowlers Inc. tournaments, even a few more.

"Yeah, I do put some miles on the odometer," he said, laughing, "but I like to bowl."

On Tuesday it's the Twilighters at Bel Air Bowl, Friday it's the Bill Snavely league at Harford Lanes, Aberdeen and Saturday it's down to Baltimore County and the Brunswick Perry Hall center. Most week ends it's wherever the NABI event is.

Bowling for about seven years, Johnson has averaged as high as 203; his high series is 757, and in May he posted a perfect game.

In May, bowling at Crofton Bowling Center in Anne Arundel County, he won a NABI tournament; last weekend, in Crofton, he placed fourth in the NABI tournament.

Fourth was good for $500 and a $900 Las Vegas package that includes lodging for eight nights, airfare and entry into the nationals.

Ask what to credit for the sudden surge, Johnson had a quick response: "Concentration! That's the key, concentration. The mental part is 90 percent of this game."

He uses a 16-pound Teal Rhino and a Burgundy Hammer, fitted && and drilled by Pat Dare, pro shop operator at Forest Hill Lanes.

"Having the proper equipment is important," Johnson said. "But concentration is the biggest part."

And it can't hurt if he likes to drive a lot.

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