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Bowling: Nicole Walton ready for her next shot

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Updated: February 21, 2013 6:57AM



Bowling in youth leagues since the age of seven, Nicole Walton’s interest in the sport undoubtedly deepened when she began to compete on sport shots in high school competition.

So when the Portage junior became aware of the King of the Hill events at Stardust III in Dyer, held on sport shots in an intense and competitive environment, Walton decided to test the waters and learn more about various lane surfaces.

While the journey has been progressive, Walton has experienced a measure of success at the King of the Hill, recently rolling a 259 game. And as she and her Portage teammates prepare to compete in today’s Porter-LaPorte Sectional singles meet (team event is next Sunday) at Casey’s Lanes in LaPorte, Walton is feeling good about her improving game.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable with the sport shot as I’ve been to grasp how to shoot it,” Walton said. “I know better where to play and where my style of bowling fits.”

Walton said she first heard about the King of the Hills through Portage coach Debbie Gossett, whose daughter and Portage grad Kym Gossett also competes in them.

“I always like bowling on sport shots, and I always like to challenge myself,” Walton said. “When I heard about the King of the Hill from coach, I really wanted to try it, so I could see how I do and learn from it.

“At first I wasn’t satisfied with my performance because I really didn’t know much about where to play. I would throw it and hit one mark, but I would miss it a board left and it would take off. And if I went right, the ball wouldn’t do anything. It was kind of weird at first.”

Like many bowlers who have taken a trial-by-error approach to competing on sport shots, Walton’s journey in learning the ins-and-outs is still a work in progress.

“When the lanes start to break down, I really don’t see the signs immediately,” she admits. “Then I’ll do the same thing, and I’ll notice something is wrong. That’s when I realize I need to move in; and if that’s not working, maybe I need a ball change.

As Walton continues to grow in her game on the high school level, she credits Gossett in molding her.

“She’s helped me a lot because she gets me to play out of my comfort zone,” she said. “You have to learn to play different areas and she’s really helped me in that area of my game.”

As for the 259 Walton recently bowled, she said skill wasn’t the only factor involved.

“Bowling is 80 percent skill and 20 percent luck — and luck was really on my side that game,” she said. “But that score did help my confidence, and it made me want to go back and bowl King of the Hill again.”



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