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Kootenai County pin king

by JASON ELLIOTT
Sports Writer | April 13, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - If you were to ask Joey Borgaro just what was going through his head when he broke the Kootenai County record for high bowling series at the Coeur d'Alene city tournament at Sunset Bowling Center on Feb. 20-21, he'd probably tell you like it was.

"I was feeling it."

Borgaro completed the weekend with a 856 series, keyed by his 12th 300 game of his career and a 285 average in the three-game stretch.

The previous county record by Dennis Barnes was set earlier this year at 846, breaking the mark of 838 set by Tom Davenport in 2009.

"It had been four or five years since someone bowled an 800 series," Greater Coeur d'Alene Bowling Association member Terry Werner said. "This one is high enough to last a while."

Borgaro, 57, has been bowling for 40 years and starting working at River City Lanes in Post Falls in September 2008 after moving to the area from Albany, Ore., after 15 years, spending the first 40 years of his life in California.

When Borgaro isn't busy working keeping the lanes running smoothly, he spends up to 15 hours a week practicing his craft at the River City Lanes.

"I've thrown a lot of balls over the years," Borgaro said. "This series was due to a lot of hard, dedicated work. When I'm not here working, I'm usually playing in leagues or practicing my game."

On the weekend of the tournament, Borgaro added that he didn't do anything out of the ordinary.

"The weird thing was, I didn't do anything," Borgaro said. "Everything was clicking. I wasn't thinking about setting any records. I didn't have any idea how close I was. If I'd known, I probably would have hit the panic button and choked."

Werner presented Borgaro with rings in honor for both accomplishments at River City Lanes last Wednesday.

"When you have a couple of games like he did that day, it was possible," Werner said of Borgaro breaking the record. "He was really in the moment that day."

During the city tournament, fellow bowlers Jack Smetana threw a 300 and Brad Worthington had a 290, completing a competitive tournament.

"There was some pretty good scoring in that tournament," Borgaro said.

Not even Borgaro's wife, Cherie, who also works at River City Lanes, knew how close he was.

"We were going to have a sub that day so I'd been trying to get her straightened out," Cherie said. "I knew he'd thrown a perfect game and had another high game - but didn't know quite how good of a series he had thrown."

In addition to the local leagues, Borgaro participates in the Northwest Senior Tour, traveling for events in Portland once a month.

"If you stub your toe in those tournaments, you're done," Borgaro said. "All the players on that tour are really good. There is a lot of fantastic bowlers. Some of them are just fantastic to watch and the competition is very good."

Borgaro once threw a 225, a high game in most leagues but still failed to qualify for the finals by 15 pins.

"You need to be well-practiced to win at that level," Borgaro said. "I've had the luxury of finishing second, but most of the time there isn't really much you can do about it. You can have a good day, but so are they."

The county-record series was also Borgaro's fourth 800-plus effort at a sanctioned event.

"I either go ballistic or don't do well at all," Borgaro said. "I just go out and do my thing. Sometimes it goes well, sometimes it doesn't."

Borgaro will travel to a U.S. Masters event later this year, adding to the list of 12 tournaments he will participate in this year, his 30th time in the event. The Masters is a national competition, which features the best teams and individuals in the world.

"There is people from all over the world," Borgaro said. "I still get nervous about competing there. It's the highest competition. Even when you're bowling well, you're always looking over your shoulder. Even if you throw your best, they are just as good. Some of them are so immune to the pressure - they just step up and do it."

Borgaro added that he enjoys playing the sport, not only because it's fun, but also it brings people together.

"I enjoy all the people," Borgaro said. "Bowling is the greatest sport in my opinion. You don't have to be either good or bad - it's just fun. It is the greatest family sport in the world. Where else can you have an 80-year old great-grandmother playing with her 8-year old granddaughter. It's the greatest sport for families."

Entries into the national event range from 16-18,000 teams, with over 88,000 individuals competing in various stadiums and convention centers from anywhere to Reno to Miami.

"It's the best people around the world," Borgaro said. "They turn large stadiums into bowling centers and convention centers."

Whether it's for work or play, Borgaro loves the sport of bowling.

"This is the greatest sport around," Borgaro said. "I'm just thankful that I'm one of the few that can say I have to go to work. Especially at a place like this."

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