Saturday mornings are always a full house at Comet Bowl

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — The late great Professional Bowling Association Hall of Famer Carmen Salvino understood the illusion of the follow-through … there is nothing your limbs and/or body can do to affect the ball once it leaves your hand.

“But if you do everything correctly,” Salvino pointed out, “it’s impossible not to follow through.”

Charles City 6-year-old Zander Kellogg has a unique follow-through — a two-handed release. He also employs theatrical “Body English” while trying to cajole the ball to stay on the lane and away from the gutter … or “channel” as they say in serious bowler-speak.

Zander is a first-year roller this season with the Charles City Youth Bowling League. If he ever adopts a more-conventional one-handed release of someone like Cade Schmidt, a right-hander who has the highest two-game series record for the Charles City High School boys team and was bowling on the pair next to Zander, that remains to be seen.

Then again, two-handed bowling has caught on even at the professional level. Just ask multi-PBA Bowler of the Year Jason Belmonte.

Saturday morning at Comet Bowl, which houses the league from 10 a.m. to noon, caters to a span of ages and styles.

“We have about 80 bowlers this year,” said league president Kim Usher, whose daughter Lilly is a member of the league and plans to bowl for the Comets this upcoming high school season.

“The league has grown the same way the high school program has grown,” Usher said. “We kind of feed off each other.”

With all 18 lanes going, mostly filled with full teams, the popularity of bowling among local youth continues to thrive. The dividends almost resulted in dual state titles for Charles City during the last High School State Bowling Championships as both Comet boys and girls teams were a mark or two from winning Class 1A titles.

“We split them into two groups,” said Usher, who handles much of the league’s administrative duties while her husband George assists with more bowling-related duties.

“We have the Comet Strikers for our junior high and high school bowlers, as well as younger bowlers who are advanced with more experience,” Usher said. “The Saturday Rollers are for our younger kids … first-year bowlers.”

Currently, Nathan Schultz — who was a member on the Comets’ 2017 runner-up team — leads the Comet Strikers with a high game of 275 and a high series of 645.

Zac Putney, 12, is the Saturday Rollers’ high series leader with a 420.

Near the end of the season, the league holds a Higher Education Tournament.

“Last year we gave out $4,800 in scholarships,” Usher said.

The scholarships come from local businesses. Those who donate $100 or more get displayed on Comet Bowl’s video screen.