City bowler finding U.S. collegiate game right up her alley

Sarnia’s Morgan Pelkie, left, with her teammates from Oklahoma Christian University. Photo courtesy team coach James Hayes

Troy Shantz

A young athlete from Sarnia is moving up the U.S. collegiate bowling ranks.

Morgan Pelkie, throwing for Oklahoma Christian University, is now ranked 35th out 400 female college bowlers this year.

The SMAA bowling league alumnus has made a splash at Oklahoma, which she attends on a scholarship. At tournaments this season – her second south in the U.S. – she placed 4th, 10th and 3rd.

“It’s a lot of tweaking,” she said of her improving game. “Changing of hand positioning, how we throw the ball, and how we approach the line.”

The Journal first caught up with the Northern Collegiate grad in 2018 when she rolled a 297 — three pins short of a perfect game. Before that she had a 780 triple by nailing 29 of a possible 36 strikes.

That helped landed her a spot on Canada’s junior squad – after beating out 500 other bowlers – and an $18,000 scholarship to Oklahoma.

At school, she’s part of a 12-member women’s team that a trainer leads through specific weight and cardio routines, she said.

They practice as a team, but also individually twice a week at lanes minutes from campus, she said. They work out three days a week and are expected to exercise independently.

“We do a lot of weight training, we do a lot of cardio,” she said. “(The workouts) are really interesting.”

Oklahoma’s women’s team is ranked top 40 among U.S. colleges.

Next year, she hopes to crack the top 25 individually, and the team aims to make the national tournament, “which would be a big improvement for our program,” she said.

Pelkie remains in contact with her coaches in Sarnia. “They’re kind of like family at this point,” she said.

Former coach Gil Jean watches Oklahoma’s live streams, she said. “And then he’ll always text me little things like, ‘I saw you do this, you shouldn’t do that,’ just as a way to like pull my chain.”

Pelkie said she was four when family members began bringing her to the bowling alley, and shortly after she joined the SMAA league.

As a youth she tried ballet at one point but felt more comfortable in bowling shoes than slippers, she said.