BEAVERCREEK — Grant Pickard has been fighting an illness.
After the first game in Thursday’s Division I Southwest District bowling tournament at Beaver-Vu Lanes, the Wilmington High School senior was fighting something else.
He never imagined 12 frames later, he’d be celebrating the first competition 300 of his bowling career.
Pickard had a 300 game en route to a school record 722 series as the Hurricane finished third in the team standings and qualified for the state tournament next week.
Pickard’s 300 game matches Elijah Martini’s single game WHS record from earlier in the season.
But early Thursday morning, Pickard was not thinking 300.
“I didn’t feel 100 percent,” said Pickard, who had been sick the past couple days and even left school early on Wednesday.
Then came the annoyance of good shots leaving pins on the deck as he opened with a sub-par 188 game.
“It was very, very frustrating,” said Pickard. “It wasn’t even frustrating because it was a low score … I got no breaks.”
What was more irritating, Pickard had to feel like his score was a letdown for his team that was eighth after one game. The top five teams advanced to the state.
“We were way off the (state) cut, even though it was very early,” he said.
Switching lanes after a game meant Pickard had to find his mark … not again, but for the first time. The first ball in the second game was a “light” hit but scattered the 10 pins into the pit.
“It was not good at all,” he admitted. “It was a random guess. I got lucky.”
That change of fortune sparked Pickard. He buried the next eight balls in the pocket, pushing his strike streak to nine. Then came the faithful 11th frame.
“If I miss a 300, it’s always the 11th (frame),” said Pickard, who noted he’s had 11 in a row twice in practice but finished with games of 299 and 295.
As the ball left his hand Thursday and churned down the lane, Pickard seemed certain the 11th frame would again be his downfall.
“I missed (my mark) inside 6 boards,” he said.
As the ball struck the pins, Pickard had to give a double-take. “I could not believe it struck,” he said.
After that, the 12th and final ball in the perfect game seemed almost irrelevant.
“After I got lucky (in the 11th), it kind of relaxed me,” he said.
After the 300 game, Pickard had to regroup emotionally.
“I told myself I really do not want to shoot another 180 or lower,” he said.
He didn’t. But the 300 was quickly pushed to the back burner, Pickard said, as the attention turned to a third game and a team bid for Columbus. As the game unfolded, though, Pickard had the WHS three-game series record of 714 by Travis Newbry in sight.
With a strike on the first ball in the 10th frame, Pickard assured himself of the record and finished with a 722 series.
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports