116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Aiden Mitts is from a bowling family. By the time the 15-year-old was 7, he'd already learned to bowl and left the sport for a few years before returning to his family’s favorite pastime.
“I really started to care once I got to high school,” said Mitts, a sophomore at Cedar Rapids Jefferson who won the Class 3A boys’ individual championship Monday in Waterloo.
The J-Hawks failed to qualify for the state tournament last season while Mitts battled a plummeting average during his freshman campaign.
“It made me want to push harder,” Mitts said. “I knew if I stepped up, being a leader would be my new role.”
After bowling a 340 series during Jefferson's opening meet, Mitts thought, “It can't get any worse than this.”
Tossing 20-plus games a week, Mitts continued to improve and finished sixth at the Mississippi Valley Conference meet.
“I didn't care so much about having high average,” Mitts said of his determination. “I just wanted to be solid enough to fill my frame and help keep my teammates up mentally.”
After state qualifying at the Rose Bowl in Muscatine, Mitts was excited for the new format that separated the state team tournament from the individual qualifiers.
“I like it because over the last few years several people who made it with their team ended up winning the individual title,” Mitts said.
Back-to-back 267s followed an opening 210, making Mitts the No. 2 seed in the bracket.
A 237-206 victory over Waukee’s Hayden Colwell in the quarterfinals moved Mitts to the semis, where he defeated Southeast Polk’s Jordan Killmer, 227-190.
“Toward the end of the semifinals, once I knew I won, I thought, ‘Wow, this is happening,’” Mitts said.
Trying to avoid a split near the end of the championship round, Mitts secured his title in the 10th frame with a 226-198 win over Marshalltown’s Damon Borton.
“I needed a spare, and during the first ball, I was shaking. I could barely stand,” Mitts said. “I did my pre-shot routine and took a deep breathe and threw a strike.”
When Mitts got back to the approach, he took a deep breath, leaning on the table, while everyone cheered.
“My dad goes, 'Good shot, buddy' and everyone laughed,’” Mitts said.
Monday night, Mitts visited his dad, Marcus, at his job at May City and was greeted by another ovation from the league bowlers.
“I wasn't embarrassed but my face turned super red and I didn't know what to say,” Mitts said. “They all clapped for me and were asking for autographs.”