It's always nice to get a new program started with a bang.
That's exactly what Greencastle senior Michael Rumley did for Putnam County High School Bowling in its opening session Thursday evening. In his second game of the night, Rumley carried a perfect game into his tenth frame.
And that's just the story of one of the 27 bowlers who took part Thursday's events.
The Greater Greencastle USBC and Alex Alleys have organized the high school bowling league in an attempt to bring bowling into the mainstream as a sport option for high school kids.
"I'm happy with the numbers for the first go-round," said Alex Alleys proprietor and league organizer Rob Alex. "Hopefully as the years go on we'll get more kids interested.
"The format we're going with is creating some excitement about it, so maybe that will bring bowling into the regular sports eye and not so much as an obscure one," he continued.
The league started with a call to students in the four Putnam County schools to come out and get involved. While notices were sent to the schools and printed in the BannerGraphic, Alex said they rely on student word-of-mouth to get new kids involved.
"Basically it's the kids," Alex said. "We try to make it so they have a good time when they're bowling, whether it's their regular league or during this high school bowling event so that the other kids will say, 'Hey, they're having fun. We ought to try that too.'"
The league only takes two nights a week of the students' time, with practice on Wednesday and competition on Thursday. At this point, Greencastle, North Putnam and South Putnam have fielded complete teams of five.
Cloverdale currently has two bowlers, with the other three spots filled by bowlers from other schools. For this reason, their team score does not count in the team total. More bowlers are always welcome, though.
"We'd like to get more people from Cloverdale interested," said GGUSBC Association Manager Lucille Liebert.
While the kids come to this with various levels of competition, from beginners to veterans with several years of youth bowling league experience, Alex, who also serves as coach, tries to treat all the bowlers equally.
"I try to work with everybody and work with them as individuals -- I don't look at them as a team," Alex said. "I'm going down there and looking at them individually, seeing what I can help them with individually."
The association is trying to build the high school program from the ground up. Rather than trying to get the schools themselves involved immediately, the program starts with the kids.
"You can get the kids from the schools and start it up and then hopefully the schools will come on board after," Alex said. "We didn't want the schools to be obligated. They have enough to worry about, so we didn't want them to have to put money into coaching or anything like that, but yet we still wanted to compete and get bowling noticed in the schools."
As the season progresses, the league hopes to expand its interests to some outside competition, possibly with leagues in Terre Haute and Clinton. They also look toward the state competition in February.
But the first night belonged to Rumley. As his near-perfect game developed, his competitors as well as gathered parents began to take notice. For his part, Rumley tried not to let it get in his head.
"I tried not to think about it, but everyone started talking about it,"
However, Rumley and South Putnam bowler J.T. Chadd, both of whom are Alex Alleys employees, have talked about it before.
"He and I are always talking about it, saying 'We're going to strike out and get a 300.'"
The difference was, on Thursday Rumley nearly finished the deal.
At Alex Alleys
Putnam County High School Bowling
Greencastle 1,702, South Putnam 1,342, North Putnam 1,062, Cloverdale 1,147*
* Cloverdale team composed of students from multiple schools so score does not figure in standings.
Greencastle -- Michael Rumley 459, Matthew Cox 370, Hayden Rogers 328, Cody Fulford 274, Jacob Ensor 271
South Putnam -- J.T. Chadd 322, Richard Bennett 270, Travis Giannechini 263, Nick Bright 249, Adam Hammond 238
North Putnam -- Clayton McMurtrey 258, Ross Oliver 224, Cody Paul 215, Kevin Crow 197, Shawn Toth 168
Mixed team -- Nick Monds (Cl) 284, Jeff Williams (Cl) 257, Sam Schlatter (SP) 216, Zach Navel (NP) 204, Patrick Allen (SP) 186
Open Tournament Scores
Bryant Lee Jr. (GHS) 305, Karly Bumgardner (GHS) 274, Todd Fenwick (GHS) 261, Adam Zeigler (SP) 248, Zach King (GHS) 175, Brittany Cassada (GHS) 158, Ryan Zeigler (SP) 143