August 31, 2018—An Excelsior Springs teenager recently placed third in the “Heart of America Classic” bowling tournament held in Belton, averaging a 187.

Josh Oldham, an Excelsior Springs eighth grader, already averages near 170 at the age of 13. He said he went to the tournament for fun.

“I got up there and I had lots of fun,” he said. “I didn’t realize I was going to place this well. Having fun was the main part of it.”

Josh Oldham takes a moment before returning to practice. Oldham recently placed third in the Heart of America Classic. SUBMITTED PHOTO

The tournament held competitions in the sports style format which varies from the house style typically found in bowling alleys. Jerry Ferrell, the owner of Tiger Bowl, said the differences involve how officials apply oil in lane conditioning to the alleys. House shots make it easier for people to score, he said. With the more even layer of oil, sports style often proves to be the more difficult of the two. Professional and collegiate bowling often use sports style in their tournaments. Ferrell said as Tiger Bowl employs house style, Oldham adapted well to the different conditions. Oldham said some bowlers can only handle one type and don’t like to play different lanes as bowling tournaments require.

On those tougher conditions, no matter what, you have to move because you’re not going to be able to hit the same shot,” he said. “You throw the same shot, it’s not going to hit in your pocket and get you a strike.”

In Belton, Oldham said he struggled with the lanes until about his fifth game when he said he hit his stride. The tournament employed qualifying matches throughout the day with head-to-head later. Oldham said he played approximately 22 games in 16 hours.

Oldham said he began bowling about three years ago. He said he started out “not great.” However, Ferrell took him under his wing and began coaching Oldham to improve. When Oldham began bowling, Ferrell said he proved to be like most nine-year-olds who sometimes don’t even know their right from the left. However, Ferrell said he recognized Oldham’s natural ability.  Oldham quickly progressed in his ability as he learned more about the sport.

The mental aspects of the sport drew Oldham to bowling, he said. Bowling requires more than just physical strength.

“You can be the strongest guy in the world and still bowl badly because you didn’t know where to throw your ball or you couldn’t aim,” he said.

Ferrell said bowling contains more opportunities for scholarships than many realize. Bowling contains more avenues to participate in collegiate sports. Often, tournaments provide opportunities for scholarships. The key, Sarah Oldham, Josh’s mother, said proves to be getting the kids involved sooner. 

Ferrell said he plans to begin leagues again Sept. 8 and encourages all interested parties to call for information. He said he would like to begin a school bowling team with the Excelsior Springs School District. Rules dictate all five members of the team be enrolled in the same district. Ferrell said he contacted the school district and hopes the team can be formed soon.

Regardless if one bowls for sport for fun, Ferrell said he encouraged all to get involved.

“Our goal is to give them a lifetime sport that they can have fun with no matter how their caliber of bowling is,” he said. “But on top of that is to take kids like (Josh) who really truly love the sport and want to do the sport and be able to advance and help them.”

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