COLUMBIA — Spencer Robarge approaches the ball return and carefully selects his bowling ball for the next frame. He decides to use his 12-pound ball instead of his 10-pound ball. Spencer refers to the heavier ball as his “strike ball.” He runs up to the line and throws the ball down the lane. His decision pays off. The ball knocks down all 10 pins.
“I can’t believe I did that,” Spencer says excitedly after bowling the strike during the Parent/Grandparent and Child Doubles event in the Show-Me State Games. The competition took place Saturday evening at AMF Town & Country Lanes, where 45 pairs filled the lanes.
Spencer’s bowling accomplishments are proudly displayed on his red polo shirt covered in bowling patches and pins.
The 5-year-old bowler and his family traveled from Springfield, Mo., to compete in the games for the first time. Spencer and his 76-year-old grandmother, Clara Vest, bowled together.
“His grandpa doesn’t bowl, and it has to be a grandparent or parent. His mother is bowling with his big brother, Blake (Demore), so it just came down to me. I was his last resort,” Vest said jokingly.
Spencer boasts a bowling average of 132. He bowls in a league twice a week at Enterprise Park Lanes in Springfield, where his grandmother and brother, who is 18, work. His mother, Susan Robarge, said in addition to the bowling league, Spencer uses 90 percent of his playtime at home to practice with his plastic bowling set.
“He’s a natural. It’s very entertaining to watch him bowl,” Susan Robarge said. “He really started bowling because of his big brother. He tags along with him to the bowling center and will bowl 15 to 20 games.”
Spencer’s mother and brother earned the silver medal in the 17-to-22 age division after playing three games. Demore has competed at the national and international level and hopes to attend Wichita State University in Kansas for its bowling program.
Because he looks up to his brother, Spencer is already preparing for college through bowling. His mom said by competing in various tournaments through the United States Bowling Congress, he has won $250 in scholarship money. The money stays in a Scholarship Management and Accounting Reports for Tenpins (SMART) scholarship account until he graduates from high school.
“I’m very proud of both of them,” Susan Robarge said of her sons. “They’re at different levels, but they’re both so much fun to watch.”