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June 5, 2014

Persistence pays off: Troy Wright wins middle school bowling state title

TERRE HAUTE — Troy Wright of northern Vigo County had tried to win state championships in youth bowling a few times before this year, but he always fell short.

He made it to the regional round in 2013, but missed out on the state finals.

Then in 2014, everything clicked.

On May 17 at Indianapolis’ Western Bowl, the 15-year-old Wright — who will be a freshman at Terre Haute North High School in the fall after completing his education at Otter Creek Middle School — captured the Indiana Middle School Bowling (IMSB) state title for eighth-grade boys. He rolled a four-game series of 923 that consisted of a 247, 243, 233 and 200.

“Since this was my last year of middle school bowling, I figured I should give it my all,” Wright told the Tribune-Star.

To qualify for the 2014 state finals, Wright needed to advance from the regional May 3 at Crawfordsville, where he bowled an uncharacteristically low 668, and the semistate May 10 at Lafayette, where he did better with an 807.

That 668 he posted in the regional barely enabled him to move on to the semistate.

“It wasn’t my day and I wasn’t really as adjusted to the lanes as well as I should have been,” Wright admitted. “I was definitely nervous that my score wasn’t good enough to qualify me for the next round.”

But the state finals two weeks later were a different story. He was in a groove and he knew it.

“It just felt like my day,” Wright recalled. “I had all that pressure on top of me, but I’m mainly a pressure bowler. After I had 247, I just felt the need to do better in each game to achieve first place.”

“People definitely started gathering around,” said Troy’s grandfather, Tim Wright, referring to the crowd’s curious reaction to the teenager’s first-game score.

“I was proud of him. I was impressed that people who didn’t even know him were rooting for him, saying ‘Go Troy’ when he got a strike. They started cheering louder the better he was doing.”

Troy Wright actually didn’t top 247 in any of his remaining games, but he performed well enough to hold off runner-up Trevor Egloff of Portage by a 923-797 margin. Even the 200 in Game 4 didn’t prevent him from claiming the state title.

“I just thought, ‘Wow, I actually did it,’” Troy said of his emotions afterward.

Also worthy of congratulations is Terre Haute’s Halie Hart, who recently attended Dixie Bee Elementary School. She won the IMSB girls fifth-grade state championship with a four-game series of 628 (147-135-143-203).

I I I

Troy Wright’s interests are not limited to bowling. He played baseball in the Terre Town leagues for seven years and he hopes to play freshman football at Terre Haute North in the fall, plus he works a part-time job at Wigwam Roller Rink.

In the future, he would like to attend Purdue or Indiana University to study some form of medicine and, not surprisingly, become a member of its bowling club.

Yes, regardless of other hobbies or activities that he’ll enjoy, he insists bowling will continue to play a big part in his life for years to come.

The right-handed Troy first dabbled in the sport when he was 6. At age 9, he started competing in Saturday morning winter leagues at Vigo Bowl.

“I don’t think I did too badly,” young Wright assessed, “but I still needed to improve a lot.”

About two years ago, Troy joined the Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 157 adult/youth team with his grandmother, longtime bowler Linda Wright, and his great-grandfather, Lee Wright, in an evening league at Vigo Bowl.

“I improved greatly and I started taking it more seriously,” Troy pointed out. “I think I wanted to prove myself to the adults.”

For the 2013-14 Vigo Bowl league season that concluded in March, he helped a Saturday morning youth team — also sponsored by Plumbers and Steamfitters 157 — win the championship. He ended up leading the league in game average (185) and three-game series average (656).

Troy Wright said he practiced more than ever this past year leading up to the state finals, usually at Vigo Bowl but sometimes at Terre Haute Bowling Center and Paradise Bowl in Clinton. He wants to compete for Terre Haute North’s bowling club and continue winning state tournaments over the next four years, even if he does well in football.

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