FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. – Special Olympics Southern California’s Bowling Championship brought out the best in nearly 400 athletes who competed Saturday in a pair of sessions at Fountain Bowl in Fountain Valley.
Special Olympics Inland Empire had a strong showing in the morning session. Of the 47 divisions (29 male and 18 female), Inland Empire athletes accounted for 16 gold medals – including four by female Corona Norco Dragons bowlers led by Saundra Scott’s cumulative 294 score over three games to top the session.
Division F16 was decided by a pin, as Leslie Mednick (Orange County Rollers) prevailed against Althea Barilone-Hayes (Ventura 2 Legit 2 Split) by the score of 124-123.
On the men’s side, a pair of divisions were tightly contested. Jared Thompson (Central Riverside) and Joshua Wade (Pasadena) tied for the gold with identical 347 cumulative scores in Division M22. Meanwhile, Monti Peterson (Greater Los Angeles – MATC) edged out Richard Springs (San Diego County – El Cajon) by a pin, 341-340, for the gold in Division M34.
The high score of the men’s morning session belonged to Austin Sharpe of San Diego County – Imperial Valley. The 22-year-old posted a cumulative score of 413 to win Division M19.
The tightest finish in the afternoon session belonged to Division F16, as three pins were the difference between a gold and bronze medal. Wanda Kinard (Long Beach) posted a score of 372 to hold off Uzma Mela (Irvine Eagles, 371) and Lindsay Kautiainen (Santa Clarita Valley, 369).
The top women’s score in the afternoon was turned in by Tri-Valley Matador Angela Marchione, who finished at 404. Other notable performances included identical scores of 354 by Danielle Garcia (Antelope Valley) and Amanda Stegall (Santa Clarita Valley) to win gold in Division F14.
As for the men’s division…
Drawing a Crowd
One bowler, in particular, had spectators gathering around with each strike.
The growing attention did not bother Del Anderson II, who won the gold medal in Division M27 of the afternoon session. The 21-year-old Mighty Menifee bowler posted an eye-popping cumulative score of 727 over his three games. He didn’t leave a single pin standing all afternoon, picking up a strike or spare in all 10 frames of each game.
After already racking up scores of 244 and 236, Del only got stronger as he opened the third game with strikes in each of his first four frames. He saved his best for last, closing the final frame with three strikes to post a score of 247.
The final roll was as remarkable as any. With Del’s confidence growing after each strike and the crowd behind him, he pointed his two index fingers to the sky as soon as the ball left his hand.
“I’m really good at bowling!” said Del, who completed his first bowling season for Special Olympics.
But it was far from his first tournament and taste of success. In fact, Del has a pair of perfect 300 scores to his credit already.
His parents, Del Sr. and Sheila Anderson, said their son has been bowling since the age of 4. There was a time Del II would practice for “seven, eight hours a day” when his father managed a bowling alley. Whether it’s competing, watching professionals or playing bowling video games, the sport is his passion.
Del II said his favorite bowler is Brunswick professional Sean Rash.
“He loves everything about bowling,” Del Sr. said. “He studies the game.”
Avid bowlers themselves – Sheila competes in leagues with her son on Sunday nights and coaches juniors for the United States Bowling Congress with her husband – the Andersons look at the bowling alley as an equalizer. Del II’s autism is a nonfactor, and the quirky delivery and form that produce the looping spin and curve on his roll draws the respect of his peers and on-lookers.
After breaking his arm in the fifth grade, Del II tweaked his approach and started bowling by simply palming the ball as opposed to using the finger holes. In his mind, the weight of the ball was a detriment to his performance coming off an injury.
The coach in Sheila questioned the strategy, but she stepped aside and let him do what felt most comfortable.
“Whatever works for him,” Sheila thought.
It’s safe to say that was a good call.
Now, he’s already got his sights set on the upcoming fall season and playing softball.
“I want to hit a home run,” Dell II said.
Inside the SOSC is a blog written by staff member Tracy McDannald. It is a more feature-style approach to looking inside what makes Special Olympics Southern California so unique, so special. It is meant to explore the people and their stories. One word at a time.