Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007

Laurel bowling phenomenon king of the duckpins – at 5 years old

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Laurel resident Chris Jones may only be 5 years old, but since age 1, he has been knocking out duckpins.

In August, Chris’ game reached a new high; he earned the title of the nation’s No. 1 Pee Wee Bowler.

His grandmother, Joanne Blaschke, has worked at White Oak Duckpin Lanes in Silver Spring for 17 years. In recent years, she has kept a close eye on grandson Christopher, who has managed to blow everyone away with his scores. His average is 89 per game, and his high is 121.

Pee Wee players are between 4 and 6 years old.

‘‘The best thing is getting all the trophies, bowling with my friends and being on the team,” Chris said.

He currently has seven trophies.

‘‘He also used to bowl in the adult⁄youth league with his mother. He just loves it,” Blaschke said.

Since Chris was old enough to walk, he has played duckpin bowling, following in his mother Kim Jones’ and grandmother’s footsteps. Duckpins are half the size of regular bowling pins and the ball weighs about three pounds.

Last fall, Chris was finally old enough to play in the Pee Wee league. His team came in second in a state tournament in College Park in April. Although his team did not fare as well, Chris’ performance was so stellar that he achieved the No. 1 ranking. His ranking comes from having the highest average score among participants in the youth duckpin leagues across the country run by the National Duckpin Youth Association (NDYA), based in Bel Air, Md.

Carol Yingling, the youth director for the NDYA, said Chris’ ranking ‘‘is a spectacular award.”

‘‘My mom was a physical education major, so we were always involved in physical activities growing up,” said Kim Jones, who encouraged Chris to bowl.

Kim Jones and husband Jeff are also the parents of 3-year-old triplets Madison, Morgan and Marcus.

‘‘I hope my brother or sisters start bowling, but I wish I was back in preschool with them,” said Chris, who practices once a week.

She said Chris is still too young to realize the significance of his title.

‘‘When we meet people I tell him to tell them about the Pee Wee title. And he asks, ‘What’s that again?’” she said.

The NDYA will present Chris with a plaque for his title in October.

Chris started his first year of full-day elementary school at Bond Mill Elementary in West Laurel last month.

When he is home, Chris—who also likes to golf and takes martial arts—sets up cans and bowls for practice. Somehow he even manages to memorize the number of the pin that he misses when playing with cans as well.

‘‘Everyone was telling us he has a good chance of being No. 1. I am really tough on him. I want him to do his best,” Kim Jones said. ‘‘This summer he bowled an average of 83.”

But for all the hard work, the game is a world of fun for Chris who said some of his favorite tricks are passing the ball between his legs and doing a back roller.

‘‘My favorite is the backward two-roller,” he said. ‘‘I really like to use the tricks when I play.”