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Hagerstown hosts, fields team in national duckpin tourney

June 30, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

The sounds of duckpins crashing and high-five slaps filled Turner's Long Meadow Bowl in Hagerstown on Saturday as about 140 bowlers competed in the National Duckpin Youth Championships.

The tournament featured the winning bowling teams from regional and state competitions held in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia and Maryland, including a team from Hagerstown's Southside Bowl on Virginia Avenue.

"This is the first (local) team to qualify for nationals in several years. It's a pretty big accomplishment," said Jim Mitchell, coach of the Southside team.

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Southside bowler Andrew Rice, 16, of Hagerstown, said the adrenaline rush of the competition kept him from being nervous in front of the hometown crowd.

"I'm not scared. I'm just trying to do my best," he said. "I love it."

"It's really exciting," said Sharon Smith, whose son Matt was another one of the Southside bowlers.

"It's a great accomplishment for all the kids. I'm really proud. They're doing real well," she said.

The Southside team came in seventh place, last in the junior age division in the Saturday tournament, said Judy Phleeger, state director for Western Maryland for the National Duckpin Youth Association, after the tournament ended Saturday evening.

The national championship tournament rewarded winners in four age groups ranging from 7 to 21 years old, said Stacy Karten, an adviser to the association.

Connecticut, Rhode Island, Virginia and Maryland are the only states that have association tournaments, Karten said.

Duckpin bowling, which uses a small bowling ball and short, fat pins, is only found in those states plus North Carolina, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Wisconsin, he said.

The national championships have been at Long Meadow Bowl about 20 of the 29 times the tournament has been held, Karten said. He said the tournament brings about 200 people, including the bowlers, to Hagerstown for the weekend.

"It's a nice bowling alley," said Susan King, of Pasadena, Md. who was watching her daughter compete.

"It's exciting because they've come a long way. And it takes some skill to bowl. It's not all luck," King said.

The people at Long Meadow Bowl have "always been real good to the kids," said Joyce Wetzel from Glen Burnie, Md., who was at the bowling alley to watch her granddaughter compete.

"I think it's good clean fun," she said.

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