Stephen Powell is decades younger than his competitors. Having picked up bowling at the age of eight, the 21-year-old has been rolling strikes for a relatively short time compared to the veterans he is matched up against.
For what Powell lacks in experience, however, he more than makes up for in talent. Two seasons ago, Powell made his first big splash in the Effingham USBC Men’s Bowling Assocation, taking home the Bowler of the Year award. After repeating for the title last season, the Lake Land College student dominated the field this year for his third consecutive crown.
“It’s a good feeling,” Powell said. “There were good emotions. There’s not many people in the league in their twenties.”
While Powell’s first two awards came as somewhat of a surprise, this year the voting wasn’t even close. Though he didn’t win the annual city tournament, Powell said his consistent play throughout the year propelled him to the victory.
“I’m going to have to say my average,” he said. “I kept my average right around 220 all year long, every league combined. I had three 300s this year in the leagues, another in a side tournament.”
Bowling in four separate leagues, Powell gave himself plenty of chances to shine in the spotlight. The season, which runs from September until April, also gave Powell plenty of chances to deal with the good-natured ridicule older teammates hurled his way.
“They give me a hard time,” he said. “I just go right back at them.”
In the end, at least for the last three seasons, Powell has had the last laugh. This season, the year-end banquet was held at the Effingham Knights of Columbus on April 4, and Powell once again got to walk on stage for one of the night’s top honors in front of hundreds of his competitors.
“There were at least 300 plus people, if not more, in the leagues,” he said. “There were five different men’s leagues you could bowl in.”
Having solidified himself as one of the very best bowlers in the area, Powell has recently decided to test his limits in tournaments across the state, and across the country.
In the state tournament at Bloomington, Powell knocked down 2,054 pins in nine games, good enough for an average of more than 228 pins per game. Also having participated in a national tournament in Reno, Nev., Powell has had the chance to travel across the country thanks to his talents on the lanes.
For now, bowling will remain just a hobby. Powell is set on finishing his college studies in special education, and is alright with keeping bowling on the side as he continues to progress through college.
“It’s going to be a fun thing for a while,” he said. “We’re going to see what school does for me.”
Unfortunately for area bowlers, that means Powell will be right back at it again next season, frustrating older opponents with his youthful skill as he seeks a fourth-straight Bowler of the Year nod.
Effingham USBC WBA results
Becky Williams won the Effingham USBC Women’s Bowling Association singles championship recently with a 782 series held at Pagel’s Silver Dollar Lanes. Selena Rouleau placed second with a score of 722 pins and Jessica Wesselman finished third at 697. Williams also won the all events title with a strong showing of 2,217 pins.
The doubles title was won by Selena Rouleau and Allyson Thompson with a score of 1,336 pins. Mary Banning and Juel Niemeyer finished close behind at 1,334 and Erin Hartke and Kara Wilson placed third at 1,324.
In the team competition held at K-Bowl, the Misfits took home top honors with a team series of 3,190. Team members were Martha Teasley, Christian Herboth, Selena Rouleau and Allyson Thompson.
Joe’s Pizza #1 won the scratch team championship, finishing with 2,543 pins. Team members were Becky Williams, Beth Sparr, Melissa Koenig, Julie Eaton and Peggy Eskew.
Misty Christianson won the scratch title with a 568 series, and Peggy Eskew took the scratch champion crown with a score of 1,729.
Trophies will be awarded at the annual banquet on May 13, held at the VFW in Effingham.
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at email@example.com