It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
What was supposed to be another night at work turned into a night that La Crosse bowler Don Luce will never forget. After switching work shifts in order to get the evening off and bowl at South Lanes, Luce not only surpassed his previous series best of 845, he put his name in the record book among the most prestigious of categories.
Luce went out and rolled something special — an 858 — to tie the all-time series record in the La Crosse Area Bowling Association.
Luce’s eye-popping series ties a record that was originally set on Feb. 3, 1998, by Gene Arentz, then tied four other times. Well, make that five.
Luce now holds a share of the record with Arentz, William (Bill) Heise III, Andy Mills and Nick Heilman.
After spinning a 299 and 279 in the first two games, Luce knew he was onto something.
“At the end of the second frame I knew that I could get a spare in the first or second (frame), otherwise I had to run (strikes) all the way to the 11th. If not, I would come up a pin short (of the record),” said Luce, who began bowling in 1998 with his parents. “When I threw a spare in the second (frame), I knew I had to run off the sheet, so I was just trying to get in the 800s.”
Throwing high-scoring games is nothing new to Luce after recording 31 perfect games, two of which were in the past year. Although the bowling veteran had experienced many bouts of success before, he said there’s nothing that compares to approaching a nearly 20-year-old city record.
In front of a crowd of about 45 other bowlers, Luce said was feeling pressure that he hadn’t felt in a long time.
“You get the adrenaline (going) and once that’s gone down, it was just having to calm down. My stomach was in knots and I had butterflies and it came more in the last couple frames knowing that I had to tie the city record,” Luce said. “I was more nervous than I had been in a long time.”
Even though Luce now holds a share of the coveted city record, he wasn’t sure he would ever be able to get there. After tearing a muscle his shoulder a few years ago and having to bowl right-handed for a year after that, Luce has to limit his bowling for the sake of keeping his arm healthy. Whenever he hits the 800 mark or spins a 300 game, there’s always a question that comes with it.
“Every time I bowl a 300 or 800 series I wonder if it will be the last time I bowl,” said Luce, not knowing the reliability of his arm.
How do you follow up a performance that only four other bowlers in the area have accomplished? You strive for perfection, according to Luce. With a few tournaments penciled into his bowling schedule, Luce is aiming to add more perfect games to his resume along with more 800 series.
Despite everything he’s accomplished, Luce remains humble.
“At some point it (the record) will fall to someone,” Luce. said. “But for now it’s just fun to be tied with four other bowlers.”