OSWEGO — For the third-straight season, Oswego High School junior Eric Carson is slated to conclude his bowling season with an appearance at the New York State Championship Bowling Tournament.
The New York State Public High School Athletic Association, however, has announced the decision to postpone their winter regional and state championships until further notice, citing their “responsibility and obligation to keep students safe” due to the continuous outbreak of COVID-19. The list of events impacted includes the state bowling tournament.
If the tournament is rescheduled, Carson will head to AMF Strike-N-Spare Lanes in Mattydale for yet another trip to states as one of the six bowlers on the Section III boys’ composite team.
The method of qualification rewards bowlers who have achieved outstanding performance relative to their peers and is based on a full season’s body of work, including overall game averages.
Last month, Carson started off the sectional tournament by rolling a perfect game. Carson finished third overall with a 1359 six-game series and a 226.5 game average. He is currently the section leader in the boy’s high game and third in the six-game series behind Tanner Rozyczko of Baldwinsville (1450) and Dimitri Queior of Central Square (1423).
Carson said he has developed friendships with Queior and Rozyczko over the past few years.
“We’re all local, so we see each other and talk from time to time. It’s a bit of friendly competition,” he said.
Carson was among three other boys who automatically qualified. He joins the composite team alongside Nick Henshaw from Homer, Trent Beattie from Whitesboro, Tyler Dottolo from Cicero-North Syracuse, Mitch Donaldson from Fulton, and Shane Hecker from Waterville.
Heading into the tournament, Carson is focused on knocking over outside corner pins and executing his shots well.
“It’s all about making spares,” Carson said. “I know I can strike, but spares can be tough.”
Carson placed 21st out of 74 bowlers at states last season in the boys’ high score for the section composite division. The junior bowler rolled an average of 204.33 with a high-game score of 225 after a six-game series as part of the composite team. Carson also contributed to a sixth-place overall finish in a field composed of the top bowlers from each competing section.
Oswego coach Bob Hoefer has been one of the composite team coaches at the state tournament in past years. This year, Hoefer had been contacted to coach the composite team again. He turned the offer down due to schedule conflicts.
Hoefer hopes to return to coach the team during Carson’s senior year if the pair returns to states.
“The team has its own unique set of circumstances,” Hoefer said. “Typically, for about five out of the six kids, you don’t know much about their background and you don’t have a whole lot of time to spend with them, but they always seem to come together as a group.”
Hoefer said that Carson possesses a unique talent and has the potential to score in the high ranks when at states. In the coach’s eyes, Carson has “certainly proved himself and shown a lot of maturity over the years.”
Hoefer has been around bowling since he was seven years old. When it comes to coaching, he noted that it’s only every once in a while that bowlers demonstrate the ability that Carson has shown.
“He’s a gifted athlete,” Hoefer said. “Bowling comes very easy to him and he’s got something special. I don’t think you can learn it, it’s just something he was likely born with and he’s taken full advantage of it.”
Carson has elected to use his 15-pound ball and a unique two-handed technique for his rolls in order to achieve more power on the ball to knock down pins. While not one to encourage the technique, Hoefer has also not discouraged Carson from using it.
“It was definitely not my decision,” Hoefer said. “I’m usually not a big fan of it. I don’t hide that, but I’m also not a fool, and I understand that things change. A lot of the kids try to do it, and I have a good enough eye to tell who is capable. Two-hand is definitely hard to beat if you’re good at it.”
Carson has been bowling since approximately age four and noted that it’s a “bit of a family tradition” that stems from his mother’s side of the family. He bowls about two-to-three days per week and competes in a weekend league on Saturdays in Fulton. Carson has been a member of the Bucs’ varsity bowling team since seventh grade and said he aspires to continue to play in college.
“I’ve just been sticking to my game plan since freshman year to bowl well, help the rest of my team out, execute shots well, and make those friendly connections,” Carson said. “I’d love to continue this in the future. We’ll see what happens.”