One of the past highlights of this time of the year has been the flowers, candy and other gifts that were showered upon the new bowler of the year.
It was a moment that many of the ladies of the Lima Bowling Association always awaited. There was even ‘outrage’ one season when this ceremony actually occurred while some of our bowling elite were off at the state tournament and others behind in Lima could not be a part of the event.
Such will not be the case once again this season as this year’s bowlers of the year are a couple of manly men, Thomas Dalton and Cameron Flores. But then again if somebody would like to buy flowers or candy or an adult beverage for Onalee Lehman, all indications are she was close to taking down Dalton in the A Division.
“I am glad that I finally got the monkey off my back. I have been close before and I have been beaten out by some great bowlers.’
Thomas could not have been any more accurate as he went on to list the different bowlers that have been between he and the top honors in the past. “I have been beaten by Brian Sharp, Bob Edwards, Don Boyed and Derek Dukes. I am really honored to be a part of that group now.”
He continued, praising others who were in the mix for the top honors. “Onalee had to be close, Drew Ambroza and Brent Jones were close as well, I am humbled and honored to be the top bowler this season.”
Some will see humbled to be a strange word to be used by Thomas as historically he is seen to the contrary. Such was not the case as we spoke.
“I really owe a lot to my doubles partner, Boyed and to Bill Meeker, as they helped me a lot during the doubles event where I would guess that I picked up most of my points. They are two of the best ever and they were there for me.”
The humility also showed some as we talked about the game, the sport itself and the love that he has for it. “This is my first and like I said I finally have the monkey off my back. There are so many great bowlers in our area that I hope that it is not my last.”
He also shared that he was happy to see Boyed who has been battling some health concerns back up and at them on the lanes. Like many, he acknowledged Boyed as number one all time – but then again the left-handers have to stick together.
Cameron Flores may not carry the pedigree and certainly not the resume of Dalton but he will always be able to point to 2018-19 as the year that he earned his first accolades from the LBA.
Thomas shared that he actually has had better seasons than this year, with more honor scores but the tournament season sent him over the top. Flores took our conversation the same way.
“I really did not bowl as well in league play as I have in other seasons. I became so used to bowling at Westgate and 20th and the transition to Southgate has been tough at times. The Doubles tournament was at Westgate and it was
like being home again! Tyler Miller and I bowled, and we had a good time. We did not bowl well as a team but I did okay and earned enough points.”
“I did not bowl the singles tournament because I prefer bowling with my friends so the doubles and team tournaments worked better for me.”
Flores now has three benchmarks that many bowlers would love to have. He has rolled a 300 game, rolled well in an LBA event and has earned a Bowler of the Year title. What is the larger thrill?
“The perfect game was more of a lifetime goal. The bowler of the year honors may be a larger thrill.”
Flores was clearly under the weather when we spoke, but he wanted to make sure that his father Al, who started him in the game and his mother, Debra who has kept him interested in the sport got the credit they deserve for the honor that he has received.
Thomas and Cameron are two totally different people and each are worthy of our praise for a job well done this past season.
Ambroza and Patrick lead the youth –
One day the ladies will gather around and shower Abbey Ambroza with gifts when she wins Bowler of the Year on the adult side of things. The future for the dynamic daughter of Shelley and Eric Ambroza is just that bright. Who knows, maybe brother Drew will win in the same season, assuming that we go back to men and women being honored in the same year. She is just that good.
College awaits Ambroza in another year as does the world of softball, she brings the heat from the mound – actually clocked around 65 miles per hour from 45 feet – I will let you guys look things up on the softball/baseball conversion charts and be amazed.
There was a tourney or two where she battled her good friend Cameron Patrick for tournament honors – thus it is fitting that the two of them are the bowlers of the year for our youth.
Patrick remains one of my favorite stories in sports, as many of us in the bowling world can remember his courageous battle back from very critical health issues a couple of years ago. Cam Strong was the cry during that time and God has blessed him and Cam has gotten even stronger.
Abbey and Cam are two incredible young people and credits to the game.
The honors do not end there – write down the name Arianna Compton, yet another lefthander and a member of the Burden and Riepenhoff family tree. She will be a star as well. Cooper Twining, who also carries an amazing pedigree shares honors with her in the ten to fourteen age range.
The 9 and under category was dominated this season by Brendan Slaughter who earned points in every conceivable way – he was the top point getter for all the youth, an illustration of his dominance within his division.
The one the only the incredible Isabella Riepenhoff was the top young lady in the nine and under age division.