Mike McKenzie will be 19 years old Wednesday. It also will mark the first season in an adult tenpin league for the Manchester native.
On April 13 he made sure he received a great birthday present.
McKenzie had a fine youth career in the Young American Bowling Alliance. He progressed steadily from his beginning as an eighth-grader, learning the fundamentals, practicing when time permitted, bowling every Saturday morning at Hampstead Bowling Center in the YABA league, building his average every year and finally competing in youth tournaments.
"He's a future star," Ginny Blackowicz, former league coordinator at Hampstead Lanes, said when McKenzie, at 17, won the Parents Coaches Association scholarship event in October 1993 Bowl America Odenton. "That's one thing I'm sure about."
In that PCA tournament, McKenzie bowled 257, 203 and 187, climbing his way to victory in the stepladder finals.
This season, he moved into the adult leagues. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday nights he bowls at Hampstead lanes in his regular league play.
The dedication is paying off. In the Thursday night league, April 13, McKenzie posted 235 and 232 to start his mixed league series. He threw a perfect game in the third game.
"That's only the second 300 game every scored here at Hampstead," said Karen Wisner, part of the husband-wife team that owns the Main Street center. "He had three beautiful games and the best part of it is that he's such a nice young man."
The 300 game and the 767 series were high-water marks for McKenzie, fine numbers for a first-year adult bowler.
"He's already asking around how to turn professional," said his mother, Rosemary McKenzie.
Same old ball
Neil Greg of Westminster is still using the same old bowling ball. He's still referred to as "Soft Lift," and he's still putting big numbers on the score sheet.
The Essex native bowls three nights a week -- on Sunday it's Country Club Lanes, Wednesday, County Lanes and subs on Thursday at Westminster Thunderhead.
It was at Thunderhead last year that Greg threw 258, 259 and 300 for a 817 series; that series broke his record of 745 set earlier.
In an era of crankers he still maintains the smooth liquid motions of a stroker, earning him the nickname "Soft Lift." He's still using a 15-pound Phantom.
Last month, at Thunderhead, Greg posted a 286 game.
Summer league openings
Karen Wisner of Hampstead Bowling Center said there is still time to sign up for a summer league.
Call (410) 374-6211.