How to bowl 300: Forget about it

Dennis McAtee of Olin bowled a 300 game at Legacy Lanes in Monticello Nov. 7. (Photo by Pete Temple)
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     As Dennis McAtee lined up his 12th shot, one away from a perfect 300 game, all he could think about was trying not to think.

     “I got the ball,” the Olin resident said, “I stood back there, and I said, ‘OK, everybody’s looking at you. Forget about that. One more and you’ve got a 300. Forget about that. Just concentrate on throwing it.’

     “The old butterflies started going. I went up and released it, she went right in there, and they all fell down.”

     And McAtee, 67, had the first 300 game of his life, bowled Nov. 7 at Legacy Lanes in Monticello.

     After the last strike, McAtee said, “all hell broke loose. Everybody came up and started congratulating me.

     “It was really great. I’ve got an older brother (Gene), and he’s thrown three of them in his career, so it feels good to say at least I got one.”

     McAtee’s previous best was a 279, rolled in April 2018 during an open scratch tournament, also at Legacy Lanes. Both times, McAtee bowled on lanes five and six. And both times, he used the same ball.

     “It’s been a pretty good little ball for me,” he said.

     That night, everything seemed to be falling into place.

     “I would throw a strike, look up there at the scoreboard and think, ‘Just forget about it,’ and then throw another one,” he said.

     In the 10th frame, the first ball was good, but the second one veered over to the Brooklyn side (left of the head pin).

     “I thought, ‘Whoops, there it goes.’ But they all fell down,” McAtee said.

     The 300 was the first game of his series that night, which ended up being 628. On the way home, he received a call from his wife, telling him his father-in-law Dale Wenndt, who lived in Germany, had passed away.

     “I just had kind of a feeling that maybe it had something to do with my father-in-law,” McAtee said of his perfect game. “I talked it over with my brother-in-law the day of the funeral, and he said, ‘Do you think that’s a sign?’ ”

     McAtee and his wife Karlene began bowling about 30 years ago, he said, then stopped when life got too busy. He started up again five years ago in Tipton, after retiring from his 12-year job at Theisen’s in Anamosa. This is his second year in Monticello’s Suburban League, in which he bowls for the Champion Seeds team.

     He now bowls three nights a week; Mondays in Tipton, Wednesdays in Anamosa and Thursdays in Monticello.

     The week in which he got the 300 was unusually busy. McAtee bowled three makeup games Sunday, Nov. 3, then his usual Monday, Wednesday and Thursday leagues, and then participated in the Monticello Area Chamber of Commerce tournament Nov. 9.

     He paid the price.

     “Everytime I threw the ball that (Thursday) night, my arm hurt,” McAtee said. “But I got a 300 out of it. I wear an arm brace now; it makes it better.”        



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