Telegram photog no match for Turner
It's not every day that you get the opportunity to compete against an NCAA Division I recruit, but I got the chance to go head-to-head with one Friday afternoon right here in Superior.
I bet some of you are thinking I played a little hoops with Superior High School's Joel Lindberg, who is headed to North Dakota State University. That's a good guess, but I went head-to-head with the newest Division I recruit from Superior, Sharita Turner.
Turner signed her letter of intent to join the bowling team at Prairie View A&M University on Thursday afternoon at Landmark Lanes. So while I was shooting her signing, I asked if she wanted to bowl against me. She quickly accepted and we met on Friday back at Landmark Lanes.
I'm guessing she didn't think much of my bowling skills.
After a 10-minute warm-up, where Turner picked three balls out of her bag, took out her shoes, powder and rubbing alcohol and other things that I had no idea what they could possibly be for, she then knocked down more pins than I have in an hour of Wii bowling.
I found a green tye-dyed style ball from the rack, laced up my rental shoes and chucked my ball down the lane a few times. After she pointed out some of my flaws, like I break my wrist too much and I need to keep equal tension in my shoulders, we were ready to go.
Frame 1: Turner knocks down eight, leaving herself a split, which she had no problem picking up for the spare. I step up to the line, knock down seven pins on the first roll, then pick up a spare, also.
Turner started tagging along with her dad, Isadore (Izzy), while he bowled three nights a week in leagues when she was young. She started bowling in a junior league at Landmark Lanes when she was about 10. At 12, Turner could start to throw a hook. "Just like the boys," she joked.
Frame 2: Turner smashes all the pins down for a strike. However I think I surprised her by answering with a strike of my own.
Turner mentioned that she got more competitive in bowling her freshman year in high school. At age 16, she started to notice she was becoming a little better than some of other kids she was bowling against.
Frame 3: Turner rolls a six, then hits three more. My thumb gets stuck in my ball and I can only manage three pins and then five more on my second ball, I'm hanging tough at this point in the match.
The NCAA only recognizes women's bowling as a team sport, men's bowling is only a club sport in college level. This became a goal for Turner.
Frame 4: Turner rolls a nine, then easily picks up the spare. I also knock down nine, but not as easily pick up the spare.
"I had a coach, Jan Christianson, that told me I could be a college bowler," Turner said.
Her dad, Izzy, also let her know that she had the potential to bowl at the college level.
Frame 5: "You're actually going to put this in the paper," Turner asks. "Yep," I tell her. Turner then bangs out a strike. I drop eight pins on my first ball, then only muster one with the second ball. I should have said no.
One problem Turner had about trying to fulfill her college dream was how to go about getting on a team. A college scout talked to one of Turner's coaches after a meet and Turner took it from there. She filled out perspective student questionnaires and began making a bowling video. "I had a friend help me. We took video from all angles, front and back," Turner said.
Frame 6: Turner knocked down nine pins, but then missed the spare. I crush the pins for a strike. Is this my comeback?
Turner talked to a few coaches. She sent out some videos. She talked to one coach who really seemed like a good fit for her. Coach Glenn White of Prairie View A&M University in Prairie View, Texas, a short 45-minute drive from Houston, talked to Turner about balance. "I liked how bowling balanced with school," she said. "He (coach White) said you are a student first."
Frame 7: Turner rolls another nine, and again, much to my delight, misses the spare. I think my constant questions and getting her mind off of actually bowling. I drop nine pins and pick up the spare.
During spring break Turner took a visit to the campus to check things out. She enjoyed her time on campus and with the women on the team. "I felt like I was part of the family already," Turner said with a smile.
Frame 8: Turner rolls a strike, but I answer with a strike of my own.
Although Turner is not set on what she will major in at college, she has things narrowed down to specializing to be a toxicologist, or pursuing a business or journalism degree.
Whatever she chooses education will always come first for the student-athlete.
Frame 9: Turner knocks down nine then snaps down the spare. I hit nine pins then fan on the last pin.
I asked Turner, whose mother is white and father is African-American, if Prairie View A&M University, which is a historically black college, had anything to do with her choice is schools? She said it didn't, but she thinks it will be a neat experience. "I got to live my Caucasian side (in Superior), now I can try my African side."
Frame 10: I'm up by six pins heading into the 10th. This is more than likely the best game I've ever bowled. Turner steps up to the line with a I-better-step-it-up look on her face. She proceeds to show me why she is a Division I recruit as she rolls three, yes three, strikes in the final frame. I fold to the pressure and roll a nine, pick up the spare and then drop eight. I lose 175-159. I feel as though a held my own, so I'm OK with the outcome.
So with her plans all set for the next few years the future is looking bright for the SHS senior.
"I would love to become a pro (bowler), but completing college is my main goal," Turner said.
With our impromptu interview over, Turner assumes we are bowling another game. The competitor in her won't let me finish that close to her. So begrudgingly I accept.
I'm already kind of sweaty and my right forearm is kind of sore (let the excuses begin) but we bowl another league style match.
Turner jumps right of the gate with multiple strikes. I limp in with some nines and an eight. My opponent proceedes to pick up four different splits and only leaves two open frames. I get more and more tired and sweaty. I can see how throwing a 15-pound ball all day during a nine-hour tournament would get tiring.
Turner waxes me, 202-149.
"You could be on JV ... almost," Turner said to me after my beating, trying to be nice.
Thanks, I'll stick to morning basketball with the old men.
Jed Carlson is the Superior Telegram photographer. Call him at (715) 395-5024 or e-mail email@example.com.