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Schilling defies the new logic

Delafield bowler averaging 237

Nov. 21, 2012

Jeff Schilling is definitely the exception to the rule when it comes to bowlers hitting big scores.

In today's game, most of the high-average bowlers walk into the lanes with as many as three or four bowling balls, sometimes more than that. Those same guys bowl multiple times a week, some participating in as many as three leagues.

Those things do not apply to Schilling. The 45-year-old father of two is averaging a hefty 237 this season in his one and only league, the Monday Three-Man at Hartbrook Lanes in Hartland. And almost unbelievably, he's putting those numbers up with just one ball, that being an outdated Blue Hammer that he purchased in 1990, 22 bowling seasons ago.

"That's the only ball I've ever used at Hartbrook," Schilling said. "I'm not the kind of guy that spends a lot of money on equipment. I've had the ball for a long time and the only thing I do is get it resurfaced every two years. And I do that just to get the dings out of it from hitting the gutter going after 10 pins or the ones the machines put into it. When that ball cracks in half or something else happens to it, I might have to quit bowling. For some reason, that ball seems to fit Hartbrook perfectly.

Schilling, who lives in Delafield, came close to being perfect three weeks ago.

That night he bowled his highest career series, firing a whopping 845, the sixth-highest score in Oconomowoc Bowling Association history. His Monday night teammate, Pete Smith, has the highest score ever with an 865.

"That's the first thing Pete said to me after I threw my final ball," Schilling said. "He said, 'Good bowling, but you didn't beat my 865.'"

The right-hander got off to a fast start that night, firing his sixth career 300 game in the opener. He then started the second game with four more strikes, making him a perfect 16 for 16 before finally leaving a 2-pin on a very light hit in the fifth frame. He finished that game with 256.

Schilling then got back in the groove in game three, opening with the first 10 strikes. He left a ringing 10-pin on his 11th delivery, costing him an opportunity to notch his second 300 of the night. He finished with 289. Schilling ended up with a career-best 31 strikes out of a possible 36.

"I threw that 11th ball well," Schilling said. "It was a solid 10. It could have gone. But I carried pretty well all night long. You have to get over the 800 mark."

The 800 series was his third. His previous best total was 826 bowled at Hartbrook in September of 2009.

As for bowling just once a week, he says with an 11 and 14-year-old at home, he doesn't really have the time to bowl more than once.

"They keep me pretty busy," Schilling said. "Bowling just once a week seems to work best for me. I consider myself a house bowler. I don't bowl in many tournaments at all, especially with the kind of average I have. The last couple of years I've averaged 230 or higher at Hartbrook so that's where I should bowl. The place seems to be perfect for me."

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