ARLINGTON, Texas - With 2020 being a leap year, five bowlers from the St. Louis area now will have an extra day to celebrate the five-player single-game record they set Friday night in the Tri-Challenge league at The Gateway City's Concord Bowl.
The 1,457 performance from the Shelter Insurance teammates came in the opening game of their three-game league and featured 55 strikes in 58 opportunities, including a string of 27 strikes to start the night. The run ended when Tom Grimm, third in the lineup, left a 10 pin in the sixth frame.
Grimm struck out to finish the game with 279, while the rest of the teammates all entered the final frame with a shot at perfection.
Gregg Getzlow tossed a 10th strike before a 9 pin ended his bid for 300. He finished with 289. Ron Testa then notched the team's first 300, and Grimm threw his final three strikes.
Tom Shucart's perfect game then left anchor Mark Hood needing to knock down eight or more pins on his first shot, and deliver a mark, for a chance at the record. Hood, the lone left-hander of the group, struck on his first offering and left a 6 pin on his second shot. He made the spare for a 289 game.
"The more we've had a chance to bowl together since I put this team together a few years ago, the better the chemistry has become, and it helps that everyone is really positive, too," said Testa, the team's captain. "Things have been coming together for us over the last few weeks, and it has been a lot of fun for us lately. There have been nights where we bowled this well but didn't score as well, but that's our sport. We got the carry and some breaks last night, and it all fell into place."
The record is unofficial until the required paperwork has been filed and verified by USBC. The previous mark of 1,434, also rolled in the St. Louis area, was posted by Buckets on Deck in November 2011.
This year marks Shelter Insurance's third season together in the top-tier 18-team league, though they have been bowling with and against each other locally for decades. They also spent some time testing their skills in Professional Bowlers Association competition over the years.
At 53, Grimm is the youngest member of the team, Hood is 58, Testa is 60, Shucart is 61 and Getzlow will turn 62 on Sunday.
There were some aches and pains and learning curves for the team in getting comfortable at the 32-lane center and getting in rhythm, but it's something they planned for with a roster that has included as many as 10 players.
Now, they're all healthy and sharp, and the consistent lineup and bowling order have allowed their strengths and personalities to shine.
"This is a big-time money league, and we knew going in it was going to be pretty competitive," Testa said. "But, there's no defense in this sport. No matter how old you are, the goal simply is to out-strike the other guy. We may be older, but we still love it and still have a lot to prove."
Even though Grimm had the lowest game in the monumental performance Friday and lost his point to opponent Bryan Jones, who shot 300, the effort did earn Grimm a second spot in the USBC record book for the highest "low game" in a five-player game.
Four players, all from the same area, previously shared the record with 278.
The list includes Connor Druhm of St. Peters, Missouri, who was a member of Buckets on Deck, and Jim Hankemeyer, LeRoy Bornhop and Randy Lightfoot of St. Charles, Missouri, who were O.T. Hill's team that shot 1,413 in St. Charles in February 2001.
"It's great to have our names associated with those guys, and it just goes to show you what a great bowling tradition there is in this area," Testa said. "That says the players that came before us paved the way and bred the players here today. They taught us how to play and act. They helped create a really competitive environment, and what we have today is a direct result of their success, going back many, many years."
The momentum of the record start carried into Shelter Insurance's second game Friday night, but the team did not end up making a run at the highest five-player team series in USBC history, a 3,986 mark owned by The Bj's, also from St. Louis, on March 10, 2016.
Shelter Insurance added games of 1,233 and 1,099 for a 3,789 total.
Testa led the effort with a 791 series and was followed by Hood (769), Getzlow (754), Grimm (743) and Shucart (732).
Regardless of the way the night ended, the Shelter Insurance crew had the attention of everyone at Concord Bowl and delivered in the spotlight to share a life-changing moment.
"When something like this happens, you're so emotionally tied to it and incredibly proud," Testa said. "Even better, it's a team thing. You hold each other up, catch a few breaks to get there and now we're national record holders. It's amazing. And, the fact that we were three hits short of 1,500 is what I still can't wrap my head around."
Top team records:
Open, five player game
*1,457 Shelter Insurance, St. Louis, Feb. 28, 2020
1,434 Buckets on Deck, St. Charles, Mo., Nov. 30, 2011
1,422 Concord Electric, New Bedford, Mass., Jan. 18, 2019
1,413 O.T. Hill's, St. Charles, Mo., Feb. 15, 2001
1,411 E.C.N., Wichita, Kan., March 3, 2010
Open, five player series
3,986 The Bj's, St. Louis, March 10, 2016
3,937 Pro Bowl West, Chattanooga, Tenn., March 30, 2009
3,934 Limo Exchange, New Castle, Del., April 1, 2004
3,919 Hammer/The American Bowler, Columbus, Ohio, Nov. 9, 2010
3,905 Print Mark Industries, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Feb. 10, 2001
For more information on USBC records, visit BOWL.com/Records.