By CLINT FOSTER
RENO, Nev. – The best bowlers in Mineral Wells took their talents from the local confines of Mountaineer Lanes to the desert sands of Reno, Nev., last month to compete in the United States Bowling Congress.
From May 17-21, 26 local bowlers – 20 of whom were women – made the trip west to test their skills against some of the best from around the nation in team, individual and doubles bowling events.
Among the many highlights was the presentation of two awards to local bowlers for continued participation in the tournament. Debbie Kidwell received a chevron recognizing 27 consecutive years of participation, while Gail Beard was presented with a chevron for 36 years in a row at the annual tournament.
"It was really nice," Beard said of being recognized at the tournament. "Over the years, [the tournament] has traveled all over the United States. I've met a lot of people from other states and it's fun to meet them and see how they bowl. It's just a really good experience to get to see different cities that you normally wouldn't go to."
Among the best individual performers from Mineral Wells was Lindsay Bryant, who bowled in the Diamond division reserved for the best bowlers in the tournament with averages upwards of 190.
After 10 years off from the sport, Bryant has come back with a vengeance at the local level with a new, relaxed approach that has helped her increase her average score from the neighborhood of 180 to 195 and better.
In her first trip to the tourney, Bryant was admittedly nervous and said she didn't feel she bowled her best. However, she did bowl a 205 in one game, earning her an emerald pin.
"It was pretty intimidating for me, and I've been bowling a long time," Bryant said. "It was definitely a trip. It was fun. I'm ready to go back though, because now I know what to do next year. I bet you I'll win some money next year ... maybe."
The tournament will continue until July 1, when local teams will finally find out how their final scores shake out against the rest of the field.
In the meantime, Beard said 75 women bowlers will head to Lubbock this weekend for the state tournament.