Sarnia’s reluctant bowling champion

Jackie McLellan is likely the most humble champion Sarnia-Lambton has ever produced.

The long-term Courtright resident who moved to Sarnia with her husband a year and a half ago was surprised to come away with first place in the Super Senior Division (75 +) at the United States Bowling Congress Senior Tenpin Championships in Reno, Nevada earlier this month.

“I just happened to get lucky,” she said.  “I had a really nice game.”

She rolled seven strikes in a row for a career high score of 242. Her previous high was in the 220’s.

McLellan qualified for the finals by leading from the beginning to the end of the two-day preliminary round of 32 bowlers from across North America.

Following the preliminary round of six games the top six bowlers advanced to the final.

McLellan was the only Canadian to move on in her category.

“I led after the first day and never gave up that lead,” she said.

She beat out the runner-ups from Mississippi and Kentucky by 111 and 113 pins respectively to win the $1,000 top prize.

It was her third appearance at USBC Senior Championships. The others were about a decade ago, she said, noting that she didn’t make it the finals in either.

After initially taking up the sport in the 1950’s, she laid down her bowling ball a decade later to play curling and concentrate on coaching kids at Airey Lanes in Courtright. Her love for bowling for rekindled about 20 years ago.

“I’m not like a lot of bowlers who get really intense,” she said. “I have my one bowling ball and I bowl once a week at Hiway Bowl during the bowling season.”

She does it for the enjoyment, exercise and fellowship with other bowlers.

“I just throw my ball down the ally and hope for the best.”

Next up for McLellan is the Ontario qualifying event in Windsor in October in an effort to defend her North American title next summer.

– Barry Wright