Record breaker: Bowler Deno sets mark for city’s high series
By John Millikan Messenger-Inquirer | Posted: Monday, February 9, 2015 12:00 am
He almost didn’t grab that seldom-used bowling ball from the back of his closet.
Deno’s record-breaking night almost didn’t happen.
“But I’m glad it did,” the 22-year-old Owenboro High School grad said with a smile.
Deno shook off a stomach virus last month to compete in a weekly Tuesday night league and bowled the series of his life to set an Owensboro city record with a three-game score of 878. Deno rolled games of 300, 299 and 279 to break the record of 865 held by Billy Easler.
“We all wanted to beat that mark and have our name up there,” Deno said. “We knew you would just have to have a night where everything went your way.
“Every night in league I would step up there and think about how nice it would be to break that record. Just to be able to put three really big games together like that, I am proud that I was able to do that.”
Deno, now a student at Kentucky Wesleyan College, has been bowling competitively for six years and has turned into one of the city’s best bowlers. He estimates the number of perfect 300 games he’s rolled is “more than 30 and less than 40,” but he saved his best performance for the first Tuesday night of the year.
He opened the three-game series with a perfect 300 and followed it up with a near-perfect 299 — and then the attention throughout the alley shifted to the right-hander with an unorthodox bowling motion where he slides on his right foot instead of his left.
It’s a delivery he developed at a young age and one that several coaches have tried to change, but with each release that evening he slid closer and closer to the record.
He needed at least a 267 in his final game to break Easler’s mark but rolled a spare in his first frame, which gave him almost no room for error the rest of the game.
“I wasn’t really nervous until I started that third game with a spare,” he said.
“Everything just felt right the first two games. It was like I couldn’t miss. Then all of a sudden I knew if I didn’t throw eight or nine strikes in a row I really wouldn’t have a chance.”
Playing with a 16-pound ball that he nonchalantly pulled out of his closet hours earlier, he rolled nine straight strikes and finished the game with a spare to clinch the record.
Davey Murphy, a fellow bowler and longtime friend of Deno’s, was on hand for the series and said he wasn’t surprised to see the record fall.
“I told him it was about time,” Murphy said. “In my opinion he’s no doubt one of the best around. With that city record, it was just a matter of when got it. And everybody knew it.”
Deno previously bowled an 856 series at a summer league, and his best score in a sanctioned league was 837.
The record-breaking 878 took a while to sink in.
“After I was done I thought, wow that will be really hard to beat,” he said. “That one might stand for a little bit. But I also thought the 865 would stand for decades.”