Joey Larison has bowled in the No. 1 position for the Seymour High School bowling team the past three seasons.
With the success he has had knocking down pins, he recently decided he wanted to bowl at the next level.
With his high school teammates looking on, Larison made that goal one step closer to a reality last week when he signed a letter of intent to bowl at Grace College, located in Winona Lake.
“Really, it has only been the last year or two that I decided I wanted to bowl in college,” he said. “I never really thought that I would be good enough to make it, and the last two years, I put in the work and I’ve got the coaching and things have really happened.”
This season, he was all-conference and finished third in the conference with an average of 182. He bowled a high game of 245, and his high two-game series was a 406. Seymour bowls its home matches at Scottsburg. The leagues start in August and continue through February.
He helped the Owls win the conference title and a sectional championship. The Seymour junior varsity Team 2 won the JV conference championship.
Larison said he began bowling halfway through his eighth grade year when a couple of his friends had joined the team.
“I saw how much fun they were having and I thought I should get in on that,” he said.
Larison said he enjoys the challenge of knocking down the pins, posting high scores and winning matches for his team.
“People don’t understand how competitive of a sport it is when they go on a Saturday night and they throw the bumpers up and the lights come on,” he said. “It’s really a sport at the highest level when you put your heart into it.”
Larison said, like all sports, it is nice to get off to a good start by throwing a strike in the first frame.
“It’s always nice to get off to something you can be proud of,” he said. “These tournaments are long, and sometimes, you start off bad, and sometimes, you start off good. It’s all about keeping it shot to shot and making sure you don’t get too into your head. I would say bowling is more mental than most sports.”
Eduard Sides, one of the SHS bowling coaches, said Larison has come a long way since being involved in an automobile accident his freshman year.
“In three years, he has gotten at least a decade worth of knowledge of bowling,” Sides said. “He dedicated himself to learning about oil patterns, different types of balls, different types of release, how to improve his release, and he also helped coach the other boys that are bowling with us on the team, so in a very short time, he has become technically an expert. He helps the other bowlers how to get lined up. He is very instrumental helping the other bowlers.
“He’s going to be great at Grace,” Sides said. “He’s paired up with a coach that seems to enjoy him being around. He is excited to go, and I think he is going to help out the other bowlers there because he is very advanced for his age. He knows more than a lot of adult bowlers. He knows as much as some of the bowlers that have bowled collegiate before and bowled semipro.”
Larison said he chose to go to Grace because of what the college stands for.
“I really enjoyed the values,” he said. “I went to a few meets there and visited there, and it’s a small Christian college and its values really aligned with mine, and I have some friends that are currently going there.”
Larison, who also is a member of the SHS band, said he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the bowling team.
“I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do here,” he said.
Kirk Wyman, head bowling coach at Grace College, said Larison will be a great fit.
“Right now, I’ve got three strong bowlers and still looking,” he said. “With (Larison) and another young man coming in, they’ll be a good, strong fit for the team. The oil patterns we bowl on, he came up and bowled on one and hit just as easy as everybody else did.”
Larison was one of eight Seymour bowlers to earn academic all-state this season. The others were Alex Sturgill, Carter Murphy, Chase Burke, Dillan Cooper, Erika Corya, Haley Anderson and Wyatt McKinney.
Larison will join 2023 SHS graduates Kenny Kelly and Lilly Kelly on the Grace bowling team. They are the children of Seymour bowling coach Shannon Kelly.
This winter was the first season for Grace to field a varsity bowling team. The college had club bowling for the previous two seasons.
“We’re growing,” Wyman said. “Grace College sponsors the bowling program 100%, so that’s a good thing for us. Another thing for kids that come there, it’s a three-year degree versus a four-year. You can get your master’s in the fourth year. Someone like Joey could do that. I look for Joey to be a guy that’s going to come back that fourth year to be a GA (graduate assistant) and help out the team. Then he gets his master’s paid for.”
Grace is a member of the Crossroads League along with Indiana colleges Marian, Bethel, Indiana Wesleyan, Huntington, Taylor, Goshen and St. Francis, plus Spring Arbor in Michigan and Mt. Vernon Nazarene in Ohio.