Local bowler Jeff Watts helped the Northern Ontario contingent to the Master Bowlers of Canada national crown in the men’s teaching ‘B’ division over the weekend.
With 106.5 points, Northern Ontario finished well ahead of second-place Quebec (93 points).
But Watts, 21, didn’t even know he was going to the roll-offs until just before the day before he had to hit the road.
After another bowler suffered an injury in the days leading up to the event, Watts received the call to join Rheal Labranche, Rick Lavallee, Rob Sousek, and Clint Berry in Sudbury from July 1-4.
“I got called up at the very last minute to go down to nationals,” he recalled.
“I got the phone call, asked work if I could get the time off, and they said OK, so the next day I was leaving right after work.”
Even though he hadn’t bowled since around the time he fell just short at the provincials at Easter, Watts was able to get back in the swing of things quickly with a couple of practice games prior to making his first shot that counted.
“Bowling-wise, nothing really. I hadn’t bowled in two-and-a-half months, so I didn’t have any practice,” noted Watts.
“I guess I didn’t need the practice.”
For being a last-second pick-up, Watts performed admirably in Sudbury, notching 16 victories in 21 games—the second-highest total at the tournament.
Watts finished 261 pins over his average over the course of the competition, which was the third-highest total of the tournament.
That total was helped along by his high game of 298.
“I had a fun time,” he enthused. “I bowled pretty well.
“I guess it was good enough for the win.”
Watts said that what went particularly well for him was the ability to come up big in the clutch—often surging in the final frames to come away with a win for the team.
“As a team, [we had] big finishes, and even myself, I would have a big finish just to squeak past my opponent and steal a point on a guy,” he recalled.
“I had quite a few of those on the weekend, so that sure helped.
“Sure felt good.”
Watts and his team actually clinched the tournament title in Game 20, taking all eight points while Quebec and third-place Southern Ontario were both shut out.
“That second-last game was pretty big for us because we took all eight points [while] Quebec was beaten and they took absolutely nothing,” he noted.
“We knew going into that last game it didn’t matter what we did, that we had won, so it was a pretty good feeling,” he added.