Norwin bowler Dutka rolls 300, sets WPIBL series record

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Saturday, February 23, 2019 | 9:38 AM


It was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. No, it was so quiet you could hear 10 pins drop.

On Feb. 4, at the Swissvale Bowl-A-Rama, Norwin sophomore Ethan Dutka rolled a 300 game, the only perfect game in the last two WPIBL seasons, en route to an 825 series, the highest series in the 43-year history of the WPIBL.

As Dutka neared his perfect game (12 consecutive strikes), the lanes became noticeably and customarily quiet, Norwin coach Ed Lundy said. He compared the atmosphere to a baseball pitcher throwing a no-hitter, when teammates avoid all contact in the dugout.

“Swissvale has only eight lanes, and when it gets quiet, it gets quiet,” Lundy said. “There was just us and the other team, and it was very quiet.”

But Lundy, in his sixth season as Norwin’s coach, said, “as significant as is the 300 game, it is an even greater accomplishment to roll the 825 series, an average of 275 for three games.”

Consistency is obviously the key to a 300 game, Lundy said, but a bowler has to have the right pin carry and has to get lucky on a couple shots.

“I saw his last four shots,” Lundy said. “There was no doubt. Each ball was a perfect pocket hit.”

Dutka rolled a 258 the first game and sandwiched the 300 second game with a 267 in the third. Before the league-sanctioned perfect game, his high game in league play had been 289. He rolled a 300 in practice last year. Last season, Dutka walked away with a high individual series of 618 in the WPIBL team championships. His average this season is 211.

Lundy said “pressure does not have much of an effect on (Dutka). He does not get caught up in the moment. He does not overthink a situation. He just goes out and bowls. In his 300 game, he got to the seventh, eighth, ninth frames and did not show any emotion that he was close to 300.”

Dutka said he “started thinking 300 when I had six or seven strikes in a row. I started having little jitters and my hands got a little sweaty, but I have a powder bag to dry my hand. I could tell it was quieter, even with my teammates, the closer I got to the end of the game.”

He chuckled as he recalled the added tension from waiting for his four teammates plus the opponents to bowl before it was his turn again.

“I definitely had time to think about it, to think about the last few shots,” he said.

Other than his latest 300 and the perfect practice game, he only once rolled the first 10 strikes — but never 11 in a row.

“I saw he had talent coming in,” Lundy said, “and he was a little jittery as freshman, which is common. But thanks to his participation in junior bowling, he came to the program with a sound bowling foundation. I did not have to worry about fundamentals. It was just a matter of fine-tuning his game. He is consistent and has a ton of skills. He has the ability to make spares and does not make too many mistakes.”

Besides practicing three or four times a week at Norwin’s home lanes at White Oak Bowl, Dutka said there are other keys to his game.

“I try to have fun,” he said. “If I get emotional, I crash. It takes patience, and you have to have a short memory. If I throw a bad ball, I have to forget about it before the next ball.”

Bowling in Norwin’s leadoff position as a freshman and sophomore, the right-handed Dutka “has the ability to get the team started,” Lundy said, noting that Dutka’s season average is third on the team. “He made it to regionals last year and will compete in the singles regional competition March 8 at North Versailles Bowl with team regionals the following day.

When the 12th strike was recorded, Dutka fell to his knees at the foul line before receiving congratulations from his teammates, opposing players and spectators. He got high-fives from the guys and hugs from the girls, he said, laughing.

“We have a great group,” Lundy said, “and everyone was naturally excited for him.”

For his perfect game, the WPIBL will present Dutka with a ring recognizing his achievement and another ring for his 800 series. He was scheduled to compete in the WPIBLs singles championship Feb. 27 at Wildlife Lanes in Lower Burrell. Results were too late for this edition.

Among the spectators who witnessed Dutka’s 300 game were his parents, Ron and Julie, with his mother one of several fans filming the event.

Making the day even more special is that his mother celebrated her birthday that day.

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