Local teens break onto bowling scene

When Kellen Kling was 10 he enjoyed simply going bowling with his dad, but after a few visits he began to want more than just a fun game.

“I threw the ball straight, and I’d see my dad with a hook. It made me want to throw it with a hook,” Kling said.

Five years later, Kling, 15, has learned how to master both a straight roll for spares and a powerful hook for his first ball. He says he still has a lot of work to perfect either approach, but his current technique is working pretty well.

Across the county, Chris Stockard of North Shelby was just bowling off and on for fun before deciding to put aside soccer and sign up for a bowling league this past fall.

Kling and Stockard took home a third-place doubles finish July 25 after their first trip to the U.S. Bowling Congress Youth Open Championships in Indianapolis.

Neither teen had even been to nationals before their mid-July visit.

“When I saw all of these people with 15 bowling balls, and I only had four, I thought they would just destroy me. I was really nervous,” Kling said.

Bowling early in the week-long tournament, it was Kling and Stockard who would destroy the competition, finishing with a combined-score of 1,037 after the first day.

The score was good enough for first-place and remained at the top for a few days until the pair was passed by two other groups.

“I’m OK with third. It’s just cool to be third in the entire nation,” Kling said.

Stockard said he would keep an eye on Kling’s score through the tournament.

“I try to focus on my game and how he’s going,” Stockard said. “We bowl similar. We have the same line down the lanes. If he’s not doing great, I’ll try to change lines and try to adjust a breaking point.”

The two hope to continue bowling through the fall, pairing up in league bowling at Oak Mountian Lanes. Kling plans to compete in Southern Scratch Junior Bowlers Association tournaments.

Kling, a sophomore, also hopes he’ll be able to start a Thompson High School bowling team, something Oak Mountain has in place.