A total of 293 athletes representing every U.S. state, six Canadian provinces, Puerto Rico and military commands in Europe, the Far East and the Caribbean participated last month in the 1994 Coca-Cola Youth Bowling Championships at the Superbowl in Littleton, Colo., and Keith Butt, 17, of Dundalk, won the Boys Scratch event.
The No. 3-positioned Butt won three stepladder matches en route to earning top honors in the scratch event.
He defeated No. 4 Joey Botter of Arkansas, 243-205, in his first match, and No. 2 Michael Lamont of Florida, 204-173, in the second match.
In the championship match, he tallied six strikes to defeat Tim Hill of California, 184-173.
In the final match, the pressure on both of the young men was intense and showed in the final scores.
"I've been in championship rounds before, but nothing that's measured up to this," confessed Butt. "Most of my experiences have been at local or state tournaments, never at the international level. The talent here was amazing and I never thought I would win.
"I only hoped to finish in the top 10. I didn't want to set my sights too high and leave disappointed."
He didn't. He left with the championship, a gold medal and $3,000 in scholarship funds.
Butt, who has been bowling since he was 4 years old, competed in the Saturday morning Young American Bowling Alliance league at Country Club Lanes last season. He went into the tournament with a 212 average. His career high game is 279, his high set 716.
Meri Mallette, secretary of the Maryland YABA who has been associated with the YABA since 1966 and is a member of the Maryland Tenpin Hall of Fame, said, "The conditions at Denver were tough. The boys had to average 184 in the 12 qualifying games to make the top 24. Keith was bowling well, but when he threw a bad game -- bad for him, in the 180s -- the first thing that entered his mind was that he might not bring the championship back to Maryland."
Butt graduated from Dundalk High School in June.
"I'm planning on going to Essex Community College in the fall," Butt said. "It has a solid bowling team."
"This year I'm giving up the YABA. I feel that I've won the most important event in the YABA and now I want to move on, to bowl in the adult leagues."
Mallette said, "Keith is very mature for his age. I'll be sorry to see him leave the YABA, but he does need the higher level of competition to continue his growth. He's very mature, very level-headed, and he'll do fine in the adult leagues."
Butt was quick to give others credit for his success.
"My mother [Sandy Romberger], Cary Pon, Kevin Leist and John Gaines all helped me with my game," Butt said.
Using the correct equipment didn't hurt, either.
This year Butt helped out at the World Class Pro Shop and has access to the best and newest bowling balls. In the Denver tourney he used a 16-pound Piranha and the R2.
The National Amateur Bowling Association will be at Brunswick Perry Hall Saturday and next Sunday. First place is a guaranteed $1,000.
Information: (410) 256-6300.
* The Duckpin Bowlers Tour will be at Fair Lanes Westview Friday, Saturday and next Sunday for the DBT All Star Singles. Competitors must have bowled in four DBT events since January to qualify for the event, and first place is a guaranteed $1,500.
Information: (410) 747-8429.