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Sterner bowling over competition

By Doug Gorman

Former Lovejoy High School student Jason Sterner has an impressive athletic resume.

He shoots a mean game of golf, often turning in rounds in the 70s, and he once pitched his youth league baseball team to a World Series title.

Neither sport however are the shy and soft-spoken athlete's true passion.

That's is reserved for bowling, and Sterner is so good he is thinking about putting college on hold to attempt competing on the Professional Bowlers Tour.

Most recently, Sterner captured one of the sport's most prestigious amateur awards when he won the Teen Masters Championship in Sebring, Fla.

It was good enough to earn the 19-year-old right-hander a $10,000 scholarship and a chance to compete in the Team USA National Championships. It also gave him the title of the United State's best teen bowler.

In order to win the competition, Sterner had to beat out 32 of the best teen bowlers.

In the finals, he totally dominated the competition, winning all five games by an average of 90 pins.

"It was really exciting to go out there and winning," he said.

While bowling alleys are full of the occasional bowler or dedicated league member, Sterner's home away from home as always been a bowling alley.

It helps that his father Jim has managed bowling alleys since his son was a little boy.

"We knew he was going to be good from the time he first started bowing when he was about three," said Jim Sterner.

Most very young bowlers started out by bumper bowling, with the gutters covered up. According to Jason's proud father, he didn't have to worry about that because he rarely threw a gutter ball.

The Lovejoy graduate has won so many trophies and competitions many of his awards and accolades are boxed up and in storage.

"We have stopped counting all the awards and titles," said Jim. "But he has won a bunch of honors."

Although Jason could have excelled in a number of sports, he went to his father a few years ago and announced he wanted to dedicate himself to bowling.

Now, he spends time working on his technique and form.

"I don't necessarily bowl a whole lot of games," Jason said. "I spend a lot of time working on different shots and situations."

Like the professional golf tour, the PBA requires participants to qualify for the tour.

Bowlers must average 200 in a sanctioned league for two years or 220 for one year. They then need to work their way up a regional tournament tour and earn some prize money before getting a chance to compete on the main circuit, the one now broadcast on ESPN.

Jason is ready for the dedication and challenge.

"I want to at least see what I can do," he said. "If I don't try this, I will never know. My goal is to some day compete on television."

The young Sterner admires current professional bowler Walter Ray Williams.

Williams is currently the No.-1 ranked professional in the world.

"To be the best, you have to beat the best," said Jason. "I would love to do that someday."