ARLINGTON, Texas - Anyone looking for Jimmy Schmitzer of Riverside, Calif., usually can find him at a local bowling center competing in one of his seven leagues or tossing up to an additional 100 practice games each week.
The 18-year-old's hard work and dedication paid off when he rolled 36 consecutive strikes for a 900 series in the Green River Vegas mixed league at Brunswick Classic Lanes in Norco, Calif., on Friday night. The league consists of 17 five-player teams, and more than 100 people crowded around to see the final frame.
The accomplishment still is pending approval from the United States Bowling Congress, but would make the teen the 20th bowler in history to achieve the feat. John Martorella Sr. of Greece, N.Y., rolled a perfect series on April 12, and the two would own the 20th and 21st USBC-approved 900 series.
"I was pretty nervous through the first six the last game, but after that, I knew I had the momentum and really thought I could do it," Schmitzer said. "It was the best moment of my life. It was great having everyone there, and I knew my mom and dad would be happy for me."
Schmitzer is naturally left-handed, but uses a two-handed delivery and attacks the pins from the right side of the lane. He developed the unique style when he was 8 years old and never felt comfortable with a more traditional release.
With the full support of his parents, who were league bowlers many years ago, he took on the challenge of adult leagues and tournaments beginning with the 2010-11 season and has seen vast improvement. His average climbed from the low 200s a couple of years ago to 239 at the end of his first adult season.
Since moving up, Schmitzer has rolled four additional perfect games and four 800 series, so he was in somewhat familiar territory Friday, at least for the first game.
"He's bowled 300s and 800s before, and we were very happy for him when he shot the first one last night," said Schmitzer's mother, Marti. "When he got the second one, we couldn't believe it. When he started the third game, I just couldn't handle it. I started shaking and had to go outside. When he got through the last frame, I broke down. We're so happy for him."
Schmitzer's ultimate goal is to find success as a professional bowler, but in the short-term, he and his family are headed to Las Vegas, where he plans to join the bowling team at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV).
"We're at the bowling alley seven days a week, whether it's for league or just practice," said Schmitzer's father, Jim. "We're there to support him, not only financially, but to guide him. We coached him when he was younger, and we're there when he gets outside coaching, too. There's nowhere else he'd rather be, and we'll be behind him no matter what."
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Neb. There has never been a 900 on Sport Bowling lane conditions.
USBC-Approved 900 Series (21)
Jeremy Sonnenfeld (R), Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 2, 1997
Tony Roventini (L), Greenfield, Wis., Nov. 9, 1998
Vince Wood (R), Moreno Valley, Calif., Sept, 29, 1999
Robby Portalatin (L), Jackson, Mich., Dec. 28, 2000
James Hylton (R), Salem, Ore., May 2, 2001
Jeff Campbell II (R), New Castle, Pa., June 12, 2004
Darin Pomije (R), New Prague, Minn., Dec. 9, 2004
Robert Mushtare (R), Fort Drum, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2005 and Feb. 19, 2006
Lonnie Billiter Jr. (R), Fairfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2006
Mark Wukoman (R), Greenfield, Wis., April 22, 2006
P.J. Giesfeldt (R), Milwaukee, Dec. 23, 2006
Rich Jerome Jr. (R), Baltimore, Dec. 22, 2008
Chris Aker (L), Winnemucca, Nev., Oct. 30, 2009
Andrew Teall (R), Medford, N.J., Nov. 2, 2009
Andrew Mank (R), Bellevue Ill., March 18, 2010
William Howell III (L), Middletown, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2010
Matt Latarski (R), Medina, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2010
Bob Kammer Jr. (R), Crown Point, Ind., Jan. 8, 2011
John Martorella Sr. (R), Greece, N.Y., April 12, 2012**
Jimmy Schmitzer (R), Riverside, Calif., April 20, 2012**
** Pending formal approval by the United States Bowling Congress.