GREAT LAKES, IL –
Two U.S. Navy bowlers withstood last minute Army challengers to clinch the single men’s and women’s gold at the Armed Forces Bowling Championship hosted at Naval Station Great Lakes, on Monday, July 22.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ashley Scott, of Naval Station Norfolk, Va. and Navy Chief Petty Officer Guy Cruise, of Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., bested 11 elite peers from around the world representing the Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard.
While Scott and Cruise commanded early leads, Army Sgt. First Class Chandres Bolden of Joint Base Fort Sam Houston, Texas and Sgt. Terry Gelner of College Station, Texas both rallied from deep deficits to mount potential upsets that came down to the wire of the 6-game race of 60 frames.
Gelner came especially close, laying down a perfect final ball that seemed destined for a strike to secure the crown, but instead left his coach grimacing toward the sky when the ten-pin remained inexplicably standing.
Like any sport, an air of chance often separates elite performers in the winner’s circle, the victors and runners up both said.
“The pins fall your way, or they don’t,” Scott said. “Today they fell (the Navy’s) way.”
The Armed Forces Bowling Championship annual competition features the best bowlers from the Service branches that field a team over a two-day elimination round of over 50 bowlers and three-day championship series in Singles, Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Team competition.
Long time coming for Navy singles champs
Both champion Sailors described their wins as a long time coming, having appeared previously elsewhere as championships rotate service branch installations each year. To take home the gold at Great Lakes, one of the most historic and largest Navy installations in the world, is especially sweet.
For Scott, a nine-year Navy veteran, the win was the fruition of a self-appointed challenge to win gold after picking up the sport in 2005. She beamed her win online to 475 friends and family on Facebook Live, calmly telling them she won before signing off. Although she conveyed calm, she said was full of butterflies.
“I put in a lot of work in my off time, but I was nervous starting at the sixth game when I started watching the score,” Scott said.
Conversely, Cruise said he never looked at the leader board, but instead nestled into a zone where he “just bowls from the first frame to the last.” Cruise had placed Top 10 in past years, and said he was hoping to make Top 3 this year.
In fact, he didn’t even realize he won until someone told him.
“I told them, ‘No way!’” said the 24-year veteran, who rejoined active duty in 2013 from the Reserves.
Unlike the other competitors who travelled from as far as Belgium and Japan to compete at Great Lakes, Cruise is a local Sailor who was able to treat his wife Genia, and daughter Olivia, age 9, to a home turf win.
He overcame a previously pulled muscle that left him limping, while his daughter cheered him on in a dark blue t-shirt with the traditional gold “NAVY” emblazoned on front.
“He puts all he has into it,” Mrs. Cruise said.