Varner makes bowling history
LEWISTOWN — When Mifflin County’s Lewis Varner Jr. stepped onto the bowling alley at Lewistown Lanes on December 23rd, he found himself in a familiar spot.
Varner found himself a strike away from perfection and was able to finish it off, firing a strike to complete his astonishing 17th perfect game.
This time things were a little different, as Varner’s accomplishment made him just the sixth person in the world and the third person in the United States to bowl a perfect game on the new QubicaAMF string machine pinsetters, which were installed at Lewistown Lanes briefly before Varner’s perfect game.
For Varner, the excitement of a perfect game is something that he said he has dealt with by remaining in the moment and focusing solely on each toss to finish it.
“Even having done it before it’s still a thrill,” Varner said. “Similar to a pitcher throwing a perfect game, that excitement and adrenaline gets going. I just try to focus on the throw and staying consistent. Try to make sure that I don’t throw it too hard or anything.”
Becoming just one of six in the world to accomplish the feat was something that Varner was proud of and he said that he had wanted to get the first perfect game on the new machines at the alley.
“I had been really working to try and get it,” Varner said. “It was exciting to be able to do it and be the first in Pennsylvania and the third in the United States to do it. Being one of six in the world to do something like this is pretty special.”
The use of string machines is stretching beyond recreational bowling and are now becoming a part of the competitive side of the sport. The main difference in between string pinsetters and free fall are that the string machines can line up pins more precisely and accurately, compared to a free-fall setup, according to International Bowling Industry’s magazine.
“The main difference is that when you roll the ball you really have to hit it just right,” Varner said. “It requires you to be a little more accurate.”
Varner has been a part of bowling leagues at Lewistown Lanes for years now and got involved in the sport after high school. He advocates for the sport and said that he believes that the game is something that many should try and would enjoy.
“I would say that people should get out and try it and see if they like it,” Varner said. “I have been bowling for years and I love it. It’s something that you can just pick up and do for fun or work and practice to get better.”
Lewistown Lanes owner Doug Bowersox said that the addition of the string machines were a part of a series of improvements to the business following the fire in July of 2020. Bowersox has owned the bowling alley for almost three years.
“The string machines were part of some improvements we did,” Bowersox said. “We added new TV screens, we put in new scoring systems and the string machines. We also did some painting and replaced the roof.
“The string machines are new and they perfectly reset the pins every time so they require a little bit more accuracy and you have to hit the pins harder. For a person who isn’t bowling competitively it does not make too much of a difference, but for someone who is, it’s a little different,” Bowersox added.
The bowling alley was then closed for a brief time with COVID-19 regulations before opening back up. Lewistown Lanes currently holds league competition Monday-Thursday and has open bowling every night of the week except for Monday nights. The alley also plays host to the Mifflin County High School bowling teams.