Striking success: Local 11-year-old bowls perfect score

Eleven year-old Lexie Jones has followed her father Chris Jones’ footsteps right to the bowling alley.

Chris competed for Team USA years ago, and Columbus Bowling Center employee Chris Davis said Chris Jones was by far the best youth bowler in the state and one of the best in the world.

“I have known (Lexie’s) dad since her dad was about her age,” Davis said. “He was probably the best I’ve ever seen, and it’s just going to be kind of the same thing with her. She’s going to be that good in my opinion.”

Lexie already is on her path to greatness after bowling a perfect score May 16 in the Nine Pin No Tap League at Columbus Bowling Center.

Games in the no tap league are scored a little differently than a normal bowling game. In that league, bowlers can knock down nine pins, as opposed to knocking down all 10, and have it still scored as a strike. Lexie managed to bowl nine actual strikes and just three nine-pin strikes during her perfect game.

“I was in shock at first because, honestly, I thought I wasn’t going to do it,” Lexie said. “I thought I was going to screw up. … Every shot when I got a strike, I would say, ‘Pretend it’s the 10th frame.’ Then, when it finally became the 10th frame, I was like, ‘Just relax.'”

Lexie actually thought she messed up when the ball left her hand on her last frame. The ball went far to the side, but fortunately for her, it hooked back in to get the strike.

Her mother, Kylee Jones, missed Lexie’s celebratory smile at the end because she was too nervous to even watch the final strike. What made it even more special was getting to do it on her great-grandmother Jan Mahoney’s 78th birthday. Lexie said Mahoney told her she could count that as her birthday present.

“I loved it, any day of the week would have been good,” Mahoney said. “I’ve bowled for 50 years and have never done that.”

The Nine Pin No Tap League is a summer league that allows any combination of bowlers on a four-person team to compete together. Lexie bowls with her great-grandmother Mahoney along with two of Mahoney’s friends, Judy Anderson and Donn Voyles.

Voyles is no stranger to bowling perfect games himself. He bowled the fifth true perfect game of his life at Columbus Bowling Center six months ago at the age of 84. Chris Jones also substitutes for the team from time to time.

The perfect score is only one of many milestones that have taken place in Lexie’s young bowling career. At 10 years old, Lexie traveled to Anderson to compete in her sixth tournament, which she won by just a few pins to win a scholarship.

Lexie is bowling in three different leagues and also is bowling in an adult-youth state tournament with her father. The tournament is in Lafayette and consists of more than 10 weekends worth of bowling. Lexie and her dad currently are leading the tournament.

Lexie, whose been bowling since she was 4, is hoping to make it into the Junior Gold national youth tournament next year. She also plans to bowl for Columbus East’s bowling team in high school and possibly for Indiana University in college. One thing Lexie enjoys about doing well in bowling is that it gives her an opportunity to prove to her friends that bowling is a sport worth taking seriously.

“Bowling is not a very popular sport, and some people in my grade or who I know very well don’t really call it a sport,” Lexie said. “But every time I make a really great accomplishment, like a 300 or win a tournament, I can tell them, and then they’ll have a look of disbelief for awhile. Then they’ll come to the realization that bowling is actually a sport.”

Perfection

Name: Lexie Jones

Age: 11

Bowling League: Nine Pin No Tap League

Best Score: 300 (perfect score)

Author photo
Frank Bonner is a sports writer for The Republic. He can be reached at fbonner@therepublic.com or 812-379-5632.