After then-12-year-old Hunter Machin bowled a perfect 300 game earlier this year, he could have left the sport knowing he had accomplished a feat that is difficult even for professional bowlers.
But it appears he is not done yet.
Now 13, Hunter has bowled an 800 series, something bowling experts consider much more difficult than a 300. The Dundalk resident bowled games of 269, 289 and 278 for a score of 833 on Nov. 9 at Brunswick Perry Hall Lanes.
But Hunter wasn't celebrating right away — he was focused on the fact that he narrowly missed another 300 three times in a row.
"He was like, 'I can't believe I didn't get my 300 again,'" his mom, Vickie Machin, said. "He had no clue. He didn't realize that he was shooting 800. … Once he realized he did shoot the 800, he was really excited."
Having grown up surrounded by bowling, Hunter knew the significance of getting an 800. His father, Bruce, a former professional bowler, has only bowled about five or six 800s in his career, Vickie said.
"It's a bigger accomplishment," Hunter said. "It's harder to do and you have to be consistent all three games, and the 300 all you have to do is [bowl] one game."
One of his coaches, Jack Hoskins, made sure Hunter understood the significance of the accomplisment as well, Vickie said.
"He said, 'You'll have 500 more 300 games and you'll only have maybe 30 800 games. You've accomplished something that a lot of adults can't dream to accomplish.'"
Hunter joined his first bowling league at age 9 and has since competed in more than 300 tournaments and won thousands of dollars of scholarship money. He won his first Junior Bowlers tournament on Nov. 17 — his first since moving up to scratch, meaning he gets no handicap pins added. As of last month, he was averaging 232 per game; the handicap limit is 200.
His skill has attracted the attention of another Dundalk bowler: PBA and Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame inductee Danny Wiseman. Wiseman, who has won 12 PBA tour titles and was a childhood friend of Bruce Machin's, is one of Hunter's coaches.
Wiseman was there to see Hunter bowl his 800 and was "very, very proud of him," Vickie said.
So proud, in fact, that when Wiseman was inducted to the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame in November, he brought up the accomplishment in his acceptance speech.
"My husband and I looked at each other and we were like, 'Can you believe he's talking about Hunter during his acceptance speech?'" Vickie said.
Hunter's goal is to eventually go pro like his coach, but he acknowledges that he has to "wait a little bit longer." Professional tournaments pay in cash, not scholarship money, and Hunter said he wants to go to a college with a bowling team. In the meantime, he plans to bowl for Dundalk High School next year as well as play baseball.
"[Wiseman] says just to try my best and get a lot of practicing, as much as you can, and make my spares," Hunter said.
Vickie has no doubts that Hunter will go pro eventually.
"He loves it too much," she said. He really gets upset when he throws a good shot and it doesn't carry, and he's like 'I hate this game, I hate this game.' But an hour later, he's out bowling again."