Five year string of 700s ends at Classic Lanes
Larry Mason

Sept. 7, 2004 - All good things must come to an end, the saying goes, and that was the case for the uninterrupted string of 700 series at Classic Lanes this week. A number of people came close to the mark, but all fell short. In fact, 14 individuals had a very real shot at hitting 700 this week, only to see their efforts go up in smoke.

When the summer league schedule began for 1999, we began to keep track of our bowlers' averages, high games and high series. As the summer progressed, we realized that for each of the 12 weeks of that season, someone had managed to roll a 700 series. That may not have been earthshaking news to the majority of people, but bowlers understood the significance of it. Stated simply it means that at least one individual averaged 233 a game for three games, bowling on two lanes. And, given that Classic Lanes is a 16-lane center located in the far reaches of East Texas, far away from the big population centers, the number of available bowlers capable of rolling 700s was far smaller that say, in the metroplex. The fact that the string lasted for 12 weeks was pretty impressive, but it was only the beginning. The string would last for 272 consecutive weeks. Not too bad a showing for a small center.

We didn't really start reporting 700s until the fall league began in 1999, and the only in conjunction with honor scores. Scott Holloway, who rolled a 777, Sam Johnson, who booked a 758, and Ronnie Strain, who collected a 772, threw the first of the 700s we discussed, stressing the point that each was close to an 800 series, a feat that had not been accomplished at Classic Lanes at that time. We were really concentrating on 800s. But, as time went by, we noticed that each week of the summer season, someone rolled a 700, and a little research proved that this was by no means a small piece of news. It really was a big deal for a small center.

The men cornered the market on 700s most of the time. It was fairly routine to have at least two guys roll a 700, and on many ocassions as many as four to nine men would roll 700s in the same week. Then, during that fall, we recorded the first 700 series thrown by a lady.

Debbie Carter tossed games of 247, 247 and 258 to end the evening with a 752. That ladies' record series was destined for some time. Laura Ballard joined Debbie on the 700 list in the spring of 2000 when she bowled a 708 series. It was only the second 700 ever rolled by a woman at the center. At that point in the season, Classic Lanes had registered a 700 series 100 times, Laura's being the 100th. The season ended with the center registering 125 series of at least 700.

In the summer of 2000, our string almost came to an end, but one bowler, Dickie Harrison, came to the rescue shooting a 717. It was the first time a single bowler had saved the record. It would not be the last time one person would save the string, nor would it be Dickie's last time to perform the chore.

During that summer season, 700s were registered 34 times, and one of those belonged to Becky Bowden, now Spelman, when she shot only the third ladies 700 series at Classic Lanes, rolling a 718 series. She was destined to roll a dozen or more before she moved out of the immediate area.

In the fall season, Julita Richardson joined Debbie, Laura and Becky on the 700 list in November of 2000 when she shot her first 700 at Classic Lanes, a 731. Only one individual broke the 700 barrier in the third week of November, Nathan Crist. Nathan had shot his first ever 700 series the week before, when he rolled a 754. His second effort the next week saved the center's bacon when he hit 700 on the nose. He was averaging 194 at the time.

The next week, we didn't need a 700 series because Bobby Matthews shot an 800 series, and 807, in fact. The next week, Neldon Smith and Mike Gilliland both shot perfect 300 games and had series of 731 and 723 respectively.

The last week of December saw Darreyl Dixon roll his third career 300 gameand a 755 series. The string continued.

In April, Mike Fletcher saved the string when he shot his 13th 700 of the season with a 758. Mike had lost his mother the day before. That season ended with the center's bowlers producing 15 honor scores, 157 series of 700 or higher, 1,522 series of 600 to 699, 5,768 games of 200 or more, and 31 averages of 200 or better.

The following summer, in the first week of competition, Cliff Whitney saved the center's 700 string by shooting a 711. Four weeks later, D.J. Kast saved the day, rolling a 706 series. Two weeks later, the string was kept alive by Darrell Green when he posted a 726 series. Two weeks after that, Cliff Whitney saved the string again, shooting a 728. It was a challenging two months.

In the fall of 2003, Mike Fletcher came to the center's rescue once again, shooting a 716. It was the third time Mike had been asked to save the string, and it was the third time he done just that. In December, it was Michaelson's turn to rescue the string, shooting a 705 . It was his second of the season, and it came during the Thanksgiving holiday shortened week when the men's league did not bowl.

In November of 2003, Marilyn Smith became the fourth woman to roll a 700 series at Classic Lanes. Marilyn rolled a 731 series, then in March of 2004, Marilyn totaled 716 pins. The feat made her only the second woman to roll multiple 700s at the center. Spelman was the first to accomplish the task. Becky was also the first lady to bowl 700s one after the other on the same night.

In the summer of 2004, during the second week of July, Wes Campbell saved the center's string, shooting a 707 series. The next week, Joe Kirkpatrick came to the string's rescue, shooting a 722 series. In the first week of August, Jason Parmer shot his first 700 of the summer, a 718. It couldn't have come at a better time, because his was the only 700 that week, and it saved the string.

The string finally came to a stop in the first week of September 2004. Fourteen folks came close to the 700 mark that week, but, in the end, all fell short. Now we'll just have to start over again.

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Larry Mason writes a weekly column on the bowling leagues at Classic Lanes. His column appears on Tuesday.

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