By Fred Eisenhammer
WINNETKA – Justin Pluchino admitted that he was speechless after he pulled off his spectacular feat. “I never thought this would happen,” Justin said.
What Justin did was crush a 900 series – or three perfect games – during the Sweepers tournament of his Junior Royals league on May 23, 201?. It actually was a no-tap 900, meaning a shot that knocks down nine pins counts as a strike.
Nevertheless, it was a breathtaking performance that demonstrated consistency and excellence over three games. Of Justin’s 36 strikes, 29 were legitimate. He left a single pin seven times: twice in the first game; three times in the second game; and twice in the third game.
Justin, 20, called the 900 his biggest thrill.
He’s already compiled a strikingly impressive resume. Justin, a powerful right-hander, bowled a sanctioned perfect game in May 2014 at Winnetka Bowl and has won numerous tournament titles. He has a high series of 796 and averages 233.
“I never thought I’d have a 900 on my sheets – regular or no-tap,” Justin said. “It’s too much to dream about. But it happened. Every bowler’s dream is to have a 300, 800, 900, or win some kind of PBA title or tournament.”
Interestingly, Justin returned to bowl the following day and racked up an 800 series in practice.
And it wasn’t no-tap. Justin hopes a sanctioned 800 is around the corner. “I know it’s coming,” he said, “I just have to be patient.”
Justin would like to get the 800 out of the way and then take his best shot at a legitimate 900 – which no L.A.-area bowler has rolled. He says the 900 remains a goal “until I can’t throw a bowling ball anymore.”
Elite bowler Johnnie Englehart has bowled with Justin and he didn’t seem surprised about Justin’s feat. “Justin has a lot of potential,” Englehart said. “He’s like the kingpin of the juniors – the top player there. He handles it well and is just a good kid – not one of those entitlement guys. And I know he loves to bowl.”
Englehart called Justin’s 900 “awesome.” Englehart, incidentally, has rolled two 900 no-tap series and twice has bowled two perfect games in a three-game series.
Ron Eisenberg, Winnetka Bowl’s junior director for the past 30 years, said it was the first time that a bowler in his program has scored a 900. “I’ve had people shoot two 300s in no-tap [in a series], but never three,” Eisenberg said. “Every ball was in the pocket. It was pretty remarkable.”
Justin said he hopes to turn professional one day and join the Professional Bowlers Assn. tour. “I’ve come this far,” Justin said. “Why stop?”