Hampton bowler Thomas competes on national stage
Garrett Thomas, a senior on the Hampton bowling team, has competed in many tournaments. But none were like the one he qualified for last month.
A first-place victory at the Frank Motta Memorial tournament at Pines Plaza in Ross Township earned him more than just a trophy. He qualified for a trip to the Junior World Championships in Dallas.
This tournament is not your average regional junior bowling tournament.
It holds its opening ceremonies at the American Airlines Center, where the Dallas Mavericks and Stars make their respective homes. It is the largest annual national tournament for the top male and female youth bowlers in the nation.
“This is the Super Bowl of junior bowling,” said his father, Glen Thomas, who made the trek with his son to Texas from July 14-21.
The road south was not paved with strike after strike for Thomas, who qualified on his fifth and final try after competing in numerous tournaments, including ones held out of state.
“It was the last tournament I could qualify,” Garrett said. “If I didn’t make it, that’s what I’d have to deal with. But I did, and I was happy. I focused more toward winning (the last tournament) and also feel I improved through the tournaments I played in the past.”
He was happy to compete with more than 5,000 junior bowlers from around the country and beyond.
“It’s an international competition,” Glen said. “They introduced kids from Germany, Great Britain, the Caribbean and Canada.”
Thomas, who averages 191 pins, competed in the U20 division, where he placed 680th - perhaps not enough for the medal stand. But according to him, that’s not what matters.
“It was intimidating,” he said. “But at the same time, you’re there to have fun, try your best and succeed.”
Thomas claims his biggest challenge was adjusting to new oil patterns on the lanes, which were more difficult than he sees on a regular basis.
“They are the hardest oil patterns that bowlers have gone through in their lives,” he said. “I was privileged enough to make it to that, practice on those and learn from my mistakes.”
The practice helped. Thomas, who bowled more than 20 games over the course of the week, had scores around and above his average - including a high score of 243. He arrived back with some mental exhaustion and a sore arm - and a feeling that he’s a better bowler than he was before the trip.
“During the practices I didn’t like how I was throwing the ball,” he said. “When I was in the game play I felt more comfortable.”
Glen Thomas estimated 8-10 families of boys and girls from the Pittsburgh area alone made the trip. With his son being eligible three more years, he’s happy to have one trip under the family’s belt already. Next year, the tournament is in Detroit.
“This was his first year going. Garrett has only bowled four years, and he’s at this level, which is amazing,” Glen said. “Our goal was to just go and experience and learn from it.”
Glen Thomas also coaches of the Hampton team, which starts its season in late fall. Those interested in signing up can contact the Hampton athletic department at 412-492-6389 or contact him directly at 412-719-7128.