When Andrew’s Josh Powell rolled a 300 game in a match against Lincoln-Way West, he thought he had scaled to the top of the high school bowling mountain.
Soon, he found out he had a couple more steps to take on the journey toward his perfect season.
Powell, Patch’s Athlete of the Month for January, climbed those steps in the IHSA boys bowling state tournament at St. Clair Bowl in O’Fallon. He averaged 225.3 for 12 games, placed fourth individually and led the Thunderbolts to their third state championship in the last eight years.
“Shooting a 300 game in a match is fun,” Powell said. “It feels good to know that you can repeat shots over and over again. But it’s only against one team. And, then, knowing that we are the state champions and knowing how hard we worked over four years in trying to bond together as a team is more rewarding.”
Powell is a senior who plans to study chemistry or biology in college. He wants to become a pharmacist or physical therapist. He also wants to continue bowling competitively for as long as he can—he has been knocking around the lanes since he was a young boy.
“I’ve been bowling since practically before I could walk,” Powell said. “I didn’t get real into it until around eighth grade. I really wanted to focus more on it. But my dad took my to the bowling alley, and I watched him bowl in leagues all the time. He’s pretty good. He’s a 220-average bowler.”
Look, Dad: Powell Switches to New Technique
Powell long-since has surpassed his dad. He also has left a generation of old-school bowlers in the dust with his new approach.
He learned to bowl using two hands—no thumb—from a coach at Arizona State University on a trip out West. He made the trip with his friend and Andrew teammate Kyle Krol.
“I guess the way I held my ball was good for the new style, so he told me to try it,” Powell said. “He saw me do it. And he said if I worked hard at it I could do great things and achieve me goals. And, hearing that from a guy who never had watched me bowl, it was inspiring.”
Powell and Krol teamed with Josh Dory, Kyle Damon, Justin Finnen, Casey Case, Mike Dertz and Nick Ghilardi to push the T-Bolts over their nagging sixth-place hump at the IHSA state tournament. Andrew’s five regulars combined for an average of 213.7 over 60 games.
The Thunderbolts placed sixth two years in a row before breaking through for a 169-pin victory over Vernon Hills. The T-Bolts finished with a pinfall total of 12,821. They rolled 13 straight strikes in a final game of 1,206—the highest recorded by any team at the state tournament.
“No, I did not want that third six,” Andrew coach Mark Lobes said. “The boys also had been sixth in the last year of the previous head coach. So, there were three, just not in a row. We were stuck on six. But there were talks behind the scenes going into the state tournament that we were one of the favorites. I just didn’t want to hear anything about that.”
Instead, what Lobes wanted to see was whether the T-Bolts could stand up in a pressure-packed situation. He wanted to see if Powell was ready to complete his transformation from a youth baseball and football player into a high school bowling household name and T-Bolt legend, replete with his picture hanging on the wall at school.
Powell bowled a 300 game in practice before striking again against Lincoln-Way West. He later captured individual medalist honors in the Southwest Suburban Red Conference tournament.
“It’s interesting—he’s gone from being a one-handed bowler to a two-handed bowler,” Lobes said. “He converted between his sophomore and junior year. He put in the work to improve his game. He’s always had a very steady personality. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion on the lanes.
“When he does, he’ll either mouth something off to himself, or if he does get upset, then you know something really bad happened.”
Here, it was the opposite.
Powell delivered the goods.
Read More: Previous Patch Athlete of the Month Picks