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High School

Hawk freshman rolls a perfect game at NIBC tournament

Everybody remembers the guy who hit the game-winning shot, plowed in for the game-winning touchdown or, in this case, threw the perfect game.

Too often, the guy who notched the assist or threw the key block gets lost in the sports ether.

Oregon's AJ Nordman wasn't about to let Justin Provo suffer such a fate after throwing the first perfect game in Oregon boys bowling history.

After all, for nine frames Saturday morning at the NIBC meet at Cherry Bowl in Rockford, Provo – a junior-varsity call-up, no less – was the John Stockton to Nordman's Karl Malone.

"He was actually keeping me distracted from the score, just talking about stuff we were doing on the computer the other night," Nordman said Monday evening.

Then, after crushing the pocket on his first ball in the 10th, the Oregon freshman looked at the score monitor and saw nothing but X's.

"I had no idea I was throwing a perfect game. I really panicked after I threw that ball," Nordman admitted.

That was evident, as he pulled the shot inside a bit. But the extra adrenaline gave the shot more speed, allowing it to hit the pocket flush enough to keep the big at perfection alive.

Nordman admits getting away with missing his mark and still striking helped calm his nerves. He picked up his 15-pound Pure Swing, approached, cut it loose, and the rest was a frenetic, violent blur.

"My reaction, when I threw that ball, is I basically, turned, ran to my team and tackled all of them," Nordman said.

His coach and father, Al, said the 12th shot was "perfect." The owner of Plum Hollow and the owner of one perfect game, says he's seen dozens of 300s over the years. Few compare to his son's, in terms of sheer quality.

"It was one of the best, cleanest 300s I've ever seen," he said. "The first 10 strikes were no-doubters."

His only regret was that he didn't get AJ's reaction on film. Ironic, since he's spent so much time over the years recording his bowler's every moves in order to help them refine their mechanics.

"I wish I would've had a video camera," Al Nordman said. "His eyes were as big as saucers, his jaw hit the floor … I've never seen him so happy."

AJ, a two-time Illinois State Bowling Proprietors Association state champ, didn't have a perfect game on his to-do list.

After all, his big brother and 2012 Oregon graduate Will, with his big backswing an tremendous pin action, is yet to throw a perfecto.

"I just thought I'd be waiting until I got older to get one," AJ said.

Will got the first phone call and, if you look past the friendly brotherly ribbing, was very proud for his kid brother.

"He went on Facebook and congratulated me," AJ said. "He called me some pretty bad things toward the end of it, but…"

Now is no time to put the bowling ball in a glass case. The Hawks, along with friendly rival Dixon, take aim at the DeKalb Sectional on Saturday morning. Both squads will try to repeat the feat of finishing 1-2 and grabbing the two tickets to the state meet in O'Fallon.

Provo, by the way, threw four games Saturday – eclipsing 200 in two of them – to help the Hawk to a conference crown. Imagine what the Hawks will be capable of, if AJ's endorsement of the seniors on the squad ring true.

"If a 15-year-old can get a 300, then our seniors should be able to kill it," AJ said.

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