Many candlepin bowlers have finished their seasons, but not Shawn Morrison, who was headed down I-95 Friday to compete in the Massachusetts Pro Tour.
He added the tour to an already packed competitive bowling schedule this season to get an extra edge and it paid off recently when he won his fourth Maine State Candlepin Bowling singles title at the 1-7-10 Sports Center in Augusta.
“Bowling against a higher quality of bowlers more often basically gave me a boost, it kept me fine-tuned,” said the 30-year-old Morrison. “I’ve been bowling better, throwing more strikes and spares — higher scores.”
Morrison’s high strings are usually in the 130-140 range, but he recorded a 150, 162 and 164 in his 10-string victory over defending champ Brian Purdy of Scarborough, 1,362 to 1,298.
“Those big games helped me gain a lot of pins. Instead of a close match, you pick up 20 here and 20 there, then you’re up 60 pins. That ended up being the difference,” Morrison said.
Morrison’s last state title was in 2006 when he beat veteran champion Charlie Milan III of Brewer. Last year, Purdy beat Morrison on his home lanes, the Bangor-Brewer Bowling Lanes in Brewer, and Nate Nealey of Portland defeated Morrison two years ago in the semifinal round.
This season, Morrison entered the state tourney not only with an added competitive edge, but a momentum boost from helping the USA East team win the World Team Candlepin Bowling Tourney in November. He also got an added lift at the singles final because his two-week-old son, Xavier, and fiancee Crystal Dutille were in attendance.
“I just had a good feeling going in. I’d been bowling a lot and I like the bowling alley,” Morrison said. “When you start throwing good strings, that gives you confidence, it becomes automatic and things fall for you.”
He took a 65-pin lead after the first five strings and maintained that advantage en route to the title. He also turned in a near record-setting performance in the semifinal round when he defeated Tim Matero of Rockland in a five-string match with a 746, missing the lanes record of 753 by seven pins.
Jeanne Gilbert of Augusta won the women’s state title.
In the next month, Morrison will conclude the pro tour in Massachusetts and a mixed world team tourney in Windham, N.H. He’ll then stay sharp by competing in a summer bowling league before rolling up practice rounds in August to prepare for another busy bowling season that begins in September.
Sargent’s 245 ties world record
Massachusetts bowler Chris Sargent tied a world record for the highest single string in candlepin bowling history when he rolled a 245 at the Metro Bowl Lanes in Peabody, Mass., on May 13.
Sargent, a member of the USA East world team with Morrison, said he was “in a zone and feeling good” but didn’t realize he was close to the record until the string was nearly over because he doesn’t like looking at his score, according to an Associated Press report.
Sargent, 40, of Haverhill, rolled a spare, six strikes, spare, and a spare with an eight to reach the 245, which was set in 1984 by Ralph Semb of Erving, Mass.
Sargent’s total has been confirmed by the International Candlepin Bowling Association.