County trio proving hot stuff on lanes

THE BALTIMORE SUN

On the lanes in Howard County, three tenpin bowlers have been as sizzling as the weather.

Mary Johnson, Ed Gregor and Louis Lester have posted some outstanding scores.

Johnson, a Richmond native living in Columbia, has been bowling since she was a teen-ager, "a long time."

"I've been bowling a little better since I had my ball drilled by Wayne Stepp [a pro shop operator]," she said. "I couldn't seem to find anyone who could drill my ball the way I liked it."

On June 25, Johnson pounded out games of 215, 224 and 265 for a 704 series.

"I did have a bigger series in the 1993 Maryland State Womens Bowling Association championship tournament; with my handicap I had a 826 series and won the event," she said.

That duplicated her 1992 victory in the same tournament.

Now averaging 187, Johnson has a career high individual game of 289.

Ed Gregor, who lives in Dorsey, "started bowling in 1972 but it wasn't until the early '80s that I started league bowing," he said.

Now Gregor is joined on the lanes with his wife, Judy, and his two sons, Bret and Tim and a friend, Tom Lawson, in a Wednesday mixed league at Columbia.

"I've made a few minor adjustments in my game," Gregor said. "And I seem to be bowling a little better. Tonight [Aug. 9], for example, I had a 683 set."

Not bad for a guy who averages a deuce; on July 6 the series was even better.

His games of 244, 256 and 236 totaled 736, "the best I've ever had."

Besides the minor adjustments in his game, Gregor credits Stepp with drilling his 16-pound Teal Rhino ball to help his down-and-in style.

Lester travels from Severn to Columbia to bowl for a simple reason: "I want to get into as many different centers as I can right now. In a couple years I'll be 50 and I'd like to try the PBA Senior Tour."

Three-hundred games can start you thinking about bowling with the big boys.

Lester's average (over 200) is enough to qualify him for the tour and after "about 35 years of bowling," he feels that he has enough experience to give it a try.

"I'm planning on trying a few regionals [PBA Senior events] as soon as I'm old enough," he said. "So it makes sense to learn as much as possible about other lane conditions."

The retired Navy service man is a golf pro at Fort Meade. On July 19, at Columbia, Lester started out with a 150 game.

"Lanes 1 and 2 are known for low scoring," he said. "But I moved to the left a bit [he's a right-hander] and took some of the speed off the ball. That worked pretty good, but I still needed a little luck with the last strike."

That last strike was where the 10-pin was standing, a 10-pin that would have broken the perfect game.

"A scout came out of nowhere and took it off the lane," Lester laughed. "I don't even know which pin it was but it gave me the 300."

That's making an adjustment, jumping from a 150 game to a 300 in the space of 12 frames. "I had my first 300 in April," Lester said. "And I never thought I'd do it again, much less in just a few months."

Lester gives much of the credit for the increased scoring to Mike Sainek and Barry Hartman (Hartman operates the pro shop at Bowl America Odenton).

"Both Mike and Barry have really helped me with drilling my ball for the best results," Lester said. "Besides the two 300 games, I had 11 [strikes] in a row just a few weeks before the first 300."

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