A Striking Success

High school bowler captures state singles championship

By Dianna Troyer

Alyssa Anthon says her bowling strategy focuses on the amount of oil on the lane at the sides and middle. Photo courtesy of Snake River Bowl

Warming up with her Declo High School bowling teammates, Alyssa Anthon grips her ball and seems relaxed as she gazes down the lane.

Her mind is churning with questions.

How will the oil patterns on the lane affect where the ball rolls?

What about foot placement?

Where to aim?

“It’s a mental game,” the sophomore says. “The ball moves a certain way and in a certain direction depending on the amount of oil on the lane. Usually, there’s more oil in the middle than the sides. You plan your strategy accordingly.”

A ball thrown on the sides away from the oil can hook back toward the center. A ball thrown down the middle tends to remain straighter longer.

“I like to start on the right and curve my ball, so it hooks and hits the 5-pin in the center,” she says. “Depending on where the pins are to get a spare, I watch my foot placement and decide whether to roll down the middle or from the side.”

She strives to stay calm.

“I control my breathing and really focus on what I’m doing,” she says. “That way, I don’t get nervous.”

As a team, Declo High School girls won second statewide while the boys team placed third in the 3A and Under Idaho State Bowling Invitational. Front row, from left, are BreeAnn Mullen, Kelcee Burton, Xochitl Ruiz, Alyssa Anthon, Zoey Stapleman and Ellie Tingey. Back row, from left, are Tyler Kidd, Corbin Williams, Kevin Hoopes, Jaxon Smyer, Easton Orton and Zane Stapelman. Photo courtesy of Snake River Bowl

Alyssa’s methodical approach to the game paid off. She was named the Singles Champion at the 3A and Under Idaho State Bowling Invitational in February at the Bowladrome in Twin Falls. She bowled a 173 and competed against 19 other girls.

Declo’s girl's team with six members placed second, competing as a team at the Snake River Bowl in Burley. The boy's team won third.

In Idaho, high school bowling is a club sport with 48 teams statewide.

Alyssa’s coaches at Snake River Bowl say her accomplishment is impressive, considering she was introduced to the game only a year ago.

“Alyssa had her best day of bowling at the right time to win the tournament,” says Justin Studer, who owns Snake River Bowl. “During the past year, she has improved steadily. She caught the bowling bug for sure.”

Alyssa says she practiced extra the week before state.

Ryan Swalling, manager of Snake River Bowl and also a coach, says Alyssa is dedicated.

“She put the time in with practice,” Ryan says. “She’s coachable because she’s willing to take direction. She gives feedback and takes advice and makes it her own. That’s why she’s done so well.”

Ryan says it is gratifying to see her and other bowlers improve.

Alyssa was named the 3A and Under Girls Singles Champion at the Idaho State Bowling Invitational after learning to bowl about a year ago. Photo courtesy of Snake River Bowl

“It’s great to see how proud they are getting their first strike of the day,” he says. “I’ve enjoyed watching kids grow and gain self-confidence while doing something they like in their spare time. It’s a challenging game, whatever your skill level.”

Alyssa was introduced to bowling at a friend’s birthday party.

“It was fun,” she says. “Then friends talked me into joining our high school team because they needed one more person. Last year, the seniors gave me advice about how to throw the ball and different strategies. I owe a lot to them.”

She had a steep learning curve.

“At first, I had horrible scores—in the 50s and 60s,” she says. “Now, my average is 126. My best game was 219.”

The team practices Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Along with practice boosting her self-confidence, Alyssa says she was motivated by a motto printed on a pillow her mother gave her.

“She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.”

Alyssa says her next dream is to be a medical doctor.

“I’d like to be a specialist and have my own office one day,” she says. “I know how to set goals and work hard. I’ll keep bowling in my free time to get better at the sport and just to have fun.”