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Near miss of 200 game inspires 10-year-old to persevere


Jessie Becraft can take the good with the bad and still act like the lady she is, even when an excited spectator recently cost the Ellicott City resident her first 200 game.

Two hundred doesn't sound like much of a tenpin game score? Well, pardner, when you're only 10 years old, a 200 game is a career high.

Jessie had to settle for a 194 when on-lookers at Brunswick Normandy Lanes became a tad noisy May 2 and one spectator hollered, causing the young right-hander to commit a common mistake: She didn't follow through when the ball was released. She picked up only the 10 pin with her last delivery, in a game that contained five strikes and five spares.

Was Jessie upset? Only for a moment.

"I'll get it next time," she said.

Jessie lives with her mother, Jan Becraft, attends fourth grade at St. John's Lane Elementary School, and is averaging 107 in the Saturday morning youth league.

She handled well the disappointment of losing her first 200 game and was excited about getting the 194.

"She called her grandfather from the center," said Terry McDonald, sales director for Normandy. "She gave Ed Lanehart a frame-by-frame report."

Lanehart, Jessie's grandfather, knows what it's like to be close to the ultimate game. Three times Ed has thrown a 299 game, and twice he's had 298. If you know Ed, you know that the 205-average bowler is an outstanding teacher of the tenpin game.

He is active in the Eastern Senior and the 700 Club. Since Ed's wife, Jackie, also is a pretty fair bowler with a 163 average, it would appear that Jessie can get all the coaching she can handle.

That 194 game was 87 pins over her average, good enough for Jessie to be named Bowler of the Month at Normandy.

The missed 200 game? Just a matter of time.

Chris Kiser, a Texas native now living in Columbia, is a little older than Jessie but he knows exactly how she feels. On April 29, in the Wednesday Men's Handicap league at Brunswick Columbia, fired 11 strikes in a row, buried the 16-pound Cobra in the pocket, and left a ringing 10 pin.

What appeared to be a certain 300 game was snatched away. But 299 is fantastic when you've been bowling for only three years and your average is 163.

Chris, whose career-high series is 654, threw 180 for his first game, shot the 299 and finished with a 157 game.

Just as Jessie's 200 game is only a matter of time, so is Chris' 300.

Lynette Locke, a Columbia resident, has been bowling for about 16 years, and on April 10 at Greenway Odenton lanes, she came very close to her first 300 game.

"I had 10 strikes in a row," said Locke, who bowls in two leagues, the Wednesday Night league and the Friday Mixed Foursome. "I was a little light with the next ball, I left two pins, and I guess I was a little nervous because I missed the spare."

But the 288 is still the career-high game for the 186-average bowler, who has a 721 series and says, "I always throw the same ball, my Blue Hammer."

After that 288 game, I wouldn't try to get that Blue Hammer away from her.


Barbara Deming of Brunswick Columbia has -- for the fifth year -- non-smoking league night. The Non-Smokers Night is on Mondays from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and starts tomorrow..

On June 22, after the start of school vacation, an adult/youth league will start in a smoke-free environment at Columbia. Sign up quickly, folks, these leagues will fill rapidly.

Brunswick Normandy has two tournaments coming up: Saturday the Junior Tournament of Champions. It will be held in two divisions. Division I will be Bantam and Prep bowlers, while Division II will be Junior Varsity and Varsity bowlers. It's sponsored by M & M and the Brunswick Corp., with the winner in Division II receiving a $500 scholarship.

At 10 a.m. May 20, senior bowlers will compete in the Vacation Classic. The tourney will be a pins-over-average format, and the winner will be crowned Senior Champion.

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