Matt Latarski of Medina, Ohio, is part of a bowling family, and he had his relatives by his side when he became the 17th bowler in history to roll a USBC-approved 900 series.
Latarski tossed 36 consecutive strikes in the Sunday Morning Trio league at Roseland Lanes in Oakwood Village, Ohio, on Nov. 28. He is the second bowler from the Buckeye State to accomplish the feat and will join Lonnie Billiter Jr. of Fairfield, Ohio, in the record books. Billiter's 900 came on Feb. 13, 2006.
"This is all pretty overwhelming and still hasn't sunk in yet," said Latarski, whose 900 was the 18th overall and third one of 2010. "I may have struck one time in practice, so I made an adjustment when the lights came on, and it worked."
The league also includes Latarski's grandfather (Ron), father (Kevin), uncle (Kurt) and older brother, Mike, who had to work and missed the historic occasion. Together, the group has combined for 24 perfect games and eight series of 800 or better.
"We root for each other, and they've always been there to support me, whether I bowl good or bad," Latarski said. "We are competitive, but we really just want everyone to have a good time and bowl well."
With five 300 games already to his credit, the 23-year-old right-hander was somewhat familiar with the pressure, but with six 299s also on his record, he knew that even a seemingly-perfect shot wasn't a guaranteed strike.
"I've had trouble finishing off 300s before, and after the second one, I couldn't believe what was going on," Latarski said. "My buddy told me to stay calm and finish it off. Before I knew it, I was getting closer, and about the seventh frame, it started to sink in. I shot my first 300 when I was 16, and I was pretty nervous then, but that doesn't even compare to this."
The 18-team trios league and the neighboring league both stopped to watch Latarski polish off his perfect series. He instantly became a local celebrity and spent time in the days that followed doing newspaper, TV and radio interviews.
Latarski, who carried a high average of 232 last season, now has eight USBC-certified perfect games, while his previous-high series was 812. His latest success was achieved with a 14-year-old bowling ball he acquired from his father last year while trying to get out of a slump.
For now, Latarski will focus on his job as a line cook at the restaurant inside the Blue Herron Country Club in Medina, but his time in the spotlight also could be the first step toward realizing his dream of becoming a professional bowler.
"This is the greatest thing ever," Latarski said. "I never thought I could achieve something like this. To do something I love and achieve this is unbelievable."
The first USBC-approved 900 occurred Feb. 2, 1997 when Jeremy Sonnenfeld rolled three consecutive perfect games in Lincoln, Neb. There has never been a 900 on Sport Bowling lane conditions.
USBC-Approved 900 Series (18)
Jeremy Sonnenfeld (R), Lincoln, Neb., Feb. 2, 1997
Tony Roventini (L), Greenfield, Wis., Nov. 9, 1998
Vince Wood (R), Moreno Valley, Calif., Sept, 29, 1999
Robby Portalatin (L), Jackson, Mich., Dec. 28, 2000
James Hylton (R), Salem, Ore., May 2, 2001
Jeff Campbell II (R), New Castle, Pa., June 12, 2004
Darin Pomije (R), New Prague, Minn., Dec. 9, 2004
Robert Mushtare (R), Fort Drum, N.Y., Dec. 5, 2005 and Feb. 19, 2006
Lonnie Billiter Jr. (R), Fairfield, Ohio, Feb. 13, 2006
Mark Wukoman (R), Greenfield, Wis., April 22, 2006
P.J. Giesfeldt (R), Milwaukee, Dec. 23, 2006
Rich Jerome Jr. (R), Baltimore, Dec. 22, 2008
Chris Aker (L), Winnemucca, Nev., Oct. 30, 2009
Andrew Teall (R), Medford, N.J., Nov. 2, 2009
Andrew Mank (R), Bellevue Ill., March 18, 2010
William Howell III (L), Middletown, N.Y., Oct. 21, 2010
Matt Latarski (R), Medina, Ohio, Nov. 28, 2010