USBC approves Wukoman's 900


    USBC News

    Milwaukee bowler is oldest to roll an official perfect series

    Milwaukee-area bowler Mark Wukoman's perfect three-game series was approved this morning by the United States Bowling Congress, giving him the ninth official 900 series in the 111-year history of certified league bowling.

    Wukoman rolled three consecutive 300 games - 36 straight strikes - for a 900 series on April 22 in the Saturday Night Men's Special League at Classic Lanes in the Milwaukee suburb of Greenfield, Wis.

    USBC officially approved Wukoman's score after completing the standard verification process after an honor score is reported to have been rolled in a certified league.

    The USBC authorization also means that Wukoman, 50, becomes the oldest bowler to roll an approved 900 series. The previous mark was held by Darin Pomije, who was 30 years old when he recorded a 900 on Dec. 9, 2004, in New Prague, Minn.

    "I'm getting a little older now," Wukoman jokingly said in an interview with a Milwaukee radio station Friday morning, one of many media interview requests he's received since his historic feat. "I'm thinking about cutting back some on my bowling."

    Wukoman's 900 comes just more than two months after the last perfect series was rolled. Lonnie Billiter Jr. of Cincinnati bowled a 900 series on Feb. 13.

    An accomplished tournament bowler who has been competing in the sport for 40 years, Wukoman said he felt confident that night with a new bowling ball he had only used once before.

    In the final frames of his last game, Wukoman said he tried not to think about making history with a 900 series despite the large crowd gathering on the concourse. The right-handed bowler said he tried to continue his planned routine of throwing his shots and sitting silently at the score table. His teammates, he said, superstitiously avoided speaking with him between shots, similar to a baseball pitcher with a no-hitter in progress.

    When he stepped onto the approach in the 10th frame of the final game, Wukoman was tense and simply trying to release the ball cleanly. He managed to keep his nerves at bay to throw three solid strikes, then fell to the floor in joy and relief as he was swarmed by teammates and spectators.

    "I collapsed on the approach," Wukoman said. "I didn't want to get up. Everybody was hugging me and giving me high fives. It was a moment in time I can't explain. It is the pinnacle of my career."

    The Franklin, Wis., resident carries a 226 standard league average and has 14 certified 300 games and three certified 800 series to his credit. Wukoman's previous high series was 825. Wukoman is a member of the Red Carpet Waukesha team that currently is in fifth place in the team event at the USBC Open Championships in Corpus Christi, Texas.

    In the midst of his run to perfection, Wukoman said he was really concentrating on his friendly bowling rivalry with his wife, Margie Morrow-Wukoman, a member of both the Wisconsin USBC Women's Bowling Association and Milwaukee USBC WBA Halls of Fame who is regarded as one of the top female bowlers in Wisconsin. She held the family high series mark of 836, and Wukoman knew that after rolling seven strikes in his final game he'd be virtually assured of besting that score to secure family bragging rights.

    "For years I've been trying to beat this score," said Wukoman, a self-employed painting contractor. "After the first two 300s, all I was thinking about was 237 (in the third game). After the first seven strikes I pumped my fist. I don't think anyone else knew what that was about."

    During the first game of the league session, the final one of the season, Wukoman's teammates asked him if he'd be returning next season. He jokingly said he'd only come back if the world stopped spinning or he bowled a 900 series.

    "I guess I'm coming back," Wukoman said. "I have to stay true to my word."

    Wukoman credited the USBC Sport Bowling program for his historic performance. Sport Bowling is a series of leagues and tournaments conducted on challenging lane conditions that rewards skillful shot-making, consistency and spare shooting. Wukoman's 206 average in a Sport Bowling league at Alpine Lanes in Muskego, Wis., this season is the 26th highest Sport Bowling league average in the nation.

    "I really thank USBC Sport Bowling," Wukoman said. "It has really sharpened up my game."

    Wukoman's feat makes Classic Lanes the only bowling center to have more than one certified 900 series rolled on its lanes by more than one bowler. Milwaukee left-hander Tony Roventini recorded the second approved 900 series at Classic Lanes on Nov. 9, 1998. Roventini rolled his 900 on lanes 3-4. Wukoman bowled his perfect set on lanes 5-6.

    Following is a list of the nine USBC-approved 900 series with the locations and dates the scores were bowled: (Note: All scores before Billiter's were approved by the American Bowling Congress, one of the organizations that merged to form USBC.)

    #9 Mark Wukoman, Greenfield, Wis., April 22, 2006
    #8 Lonnie Billiter Jr., Fairfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2006
    #7 Darin Pomije, New Prague, Minn., Dec. 9, 2004
    #6 Jeff Campbell II, New Castle, Pa., June 12, 2004
    #5 James Hylton, Salem, Ore., May 2, 2001
    #4 Robby Portalatin, Jackson, Mich., Dec. 28, 2000
    #3 Vince Wood, Moreno Valley, Calif., Sept, 29, 1999
    #2 Tony Roventini, Greenfield, Wis., Nov. 9, 1998
    #1 Jeremy Sonnenfeld, Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 2, 1997