CEDAR RAPIDS — On a Monday afternoon in February, Jim Novak found his groove.
Bowling in the Young at Heart league, Novak started on lanes 17 and 18 knowing one lane hooks more than the other, and he’d have to be wary and careful if he was going to find any success.
He found success, rolling games of 279, 256 and 268 for an 803 series, earning a spot in the USBC record book as “The oldest bowler to roll an 800 series.”
“Honestly, I’d given up on having another day like that, because an 800 series really is hard to come by,” said the 91-year-old Novak, who also owns 35 USBC-certified perfect games. “A 300 is one thing, but putting three games together is so tough. This came as a total surprise, especially on that pair of lanes.”
At 91 years, 2 months and 21 days old he topped the mark of 85 years and 9 days, set by William Lautenschlager of Stockton, Calif., in 2016.
Novak’s score is pending formal approval from USBC and would be the 21st certified 800 of his 65-year bowling career. He last eclipsed the 800 mark in March 2010.
Novak, whose highest series is 835, rolled his first 800 at 67. He also has 54 300 games with his first being rolled at the young age of 60.
Novak still carries a 210 average with his highest average being a 237.
Novak said his timing had been affected by illness. But he continues to work out at home and the addition of a new bowling ball has him back in bowling shape with his legs properly under him.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“I just can’t get over it,” said Novak, who lifts weights for his arms, walks on a treadmill and rides a bike as part of his morning routine. “It feels so good to hold the record. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
After tossing a double, he turned around to ask if the 800 was possible. One person said no. Another said he needed seven pins. He added one more strike to secure the 800, the record and the game — by six pins.
“Everyone just goes about their business, and you don’t often have anyone spying on you, so the whole thing was a pretty low-key good time with friends,” Novak said. “There wasn’t a lot of pressure, and we’re not there for the money. We’re there for the exercise and because we love bowling.
“It was just a nice afternoon.”
l Lane Lafler is a public relations committee member with the Cedar Rapids USBC Bowling Association.