Back-to-back gems; McElmeels bowl best series a day apart

Luke (left) and Diane McElmeel of Monticello rolled the best bowling series of their lives earlier this month, just a day apart. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Luke and Diane McElmeel have known each other since they were both in first grade.

     They attended high school together, and started dating when they were juniors. They graduated from Monticello High School together in 2000. They took up bowling, and bowled in tournaments together. They married in 2006, had four children together.

     So maybe it wasn’t surprising that, if the two of them were going to bowl lifetime best series, they would do so within 24 hours of one another, both at Legacy Lanes in Monticello.

     Luke’s came first, an ultra-consistent 265-264-267–796 on Nov. 3, while bowling in the Tuesday night Panther League.

     “I was at work, and I was almost late for bowling,” Luke recalled. “So I was hustling from work, no shadow (practice) balls, no nothing. I just started bowling, and it was good.

     “I missed a few shots, but they struck. Everything was falling my way, it seemed like.”

     The series lifted his average to 212.

     “In the last six or eight years, I’ve always tried to finish the season with a 200 average. This is the highest it’s ever been,” he said.

     Luke’s only regret was missing a coveted 800 series by just four pins.

     “That’s what I’ve been shooting for forever,” he said. “But I’ve shot two or three 700s before, and this was by far the highest.”

     Diane, bowling in the Wednesday Night Strikers League Nov. 4, took a different path. She surpassed 200 all three times, but increased her scores considerably with each one, scoring 215-247-279–741.

     “I just kept my arm straight, not crossing over,” Diane said. “And the lanes were good. I bowled on (lanes) 1 and 2, and those seem to be my best lanes. I’ve had one other 700, but it was quite a few years ago and it was just over 700.”

     Diane said her single game average usually is in the 180s, but has topped 200 early this season.

     “I’m just focusing more on my form,” she said. “It seems weird, but my daughter’s a (softball) pitcher, and bowling is a lot like pitching. I coach her, and I was a pitcher, so I just focus on keeping my arm straight and following through.”

     Luke and Diane rarely bowl together these days. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, one of them bowls while the other one stays at home with their daughters Sami (14), Claire (12) and Mallory (10), and son Jack (8).

     But bowling on separate nights doesn’t stop them from comparing scores.

     “He comes home and shares his score with me when he does well,” Diane said. “I’m super competitive, so I try to beat his score.”

     Diane started bowling at age 19, learning from her mother, Dixie, who has been a top women’s bowler in Monticello for many years.

     “I was 19 and out of high school,” Diane said. “I was always in sports, so I wanted to pick something up. My mom’s a good bowler, so she taught me how to bowl.”

     Diane said she “jumped right in,” bowling in leagues almost immediately after high school.

     Luke followed suit.

     “She started bowling leagues, so that’s how I got started, because she always did. We bowled in a lot of little house tournaments, and any kind of tournament we could get in,” he said.

     Luke said he had always enjoyed bowling.

     “We did it in gym class, and I liked it,” he said. “And I liked playing sports when I was in school. I was a horrible golfer, so I couldn’t pick that up, so we picked up bowling – my brother and stepdad and I started in 2002. We got on a three-man team and we just stayed at it ever since then.”

     Both of them said they continue to enjoy it.

     “We’re (usually) busy with (our kids’) sports,” Diane said. “This is our only night that we do something out of the house.”

     “I really enjoy it,” Luke said. “You get out of the house, you talk to guys from different towns. It’s a lot of camaraderie.”

     And for the McElmeels, a lot of success. 



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