Doubles bowlers win top prize in national championship

Homewood resident Gregory Mollett Jr. and his bowling partner Jeremy Delby of Park Forest took the doubles title in the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships in July.

They won the grand prize, a bronze Eagle. Only 32 bowlers, out of 65,000 competitors who started the competition, won this grand prize. It was the 20th nationals championship for Mollett and the sixth for Delby. They wear pink and black shirts with a cancer ribbon insignia to honor Delby’s mother, Kathie, who died of cancer in 2016.

The national competition for teams, doubles and individuals is in its 116th year. The 2019 competition was in Las Vegas. Mollett and Delby bowled in all three divisions. 

They bowled on June 29 in the doubles meet and came out on top. Mollett rolled a 227, 201 and 201 for a 629 series, and Delby rolled 246, 206 and 193 for a 645 series, his career high. But, the pair had to wait for nine days as other doubles teams bowled. The pair thought they had done well, but were a bit anxious wondering if they could hold the lead.

“The last couple days we had a couple close calls. We had a team jump into the top 10, and another team had a really good chance to beat us, but they did terribly in their last game and ended up 50 pins behind us,” Mollett said.

Mollett and Delby are regulars at Lynwood Bowl, and practiced there Sundays from mid-April until the end of June. Managers laid down the 2018 oil patterns provided by the bowling association for their practice time. Oil on the lanes affects how a bowl will roll down the lane. In competition, the oil patterns are extremely important as bowlers try to work out how the oil will affect their throwing. 

For this tournament, Mollett took six balls and Delby had five. They use 15-pound balls. They switched balls during the tournament, depending on how the oil was patterned. A dull bowl will pick up more oil.

Mollett said for his team event “the ball hooked a lot more, so I used a tamer bowl. In the doubles match, there was a lot more oil so I was playing really far right,” for the ball to hook down the alley.

Mollett’s team partners were his wife, Melissa, joined by Sara Georgetti of St. John, Indiana, Michael Smado of Lockport and Sean Delby of Bourbonnais.

Mollett, 42, and Delby, 34, started bowling very young and were members of the Youth American Bowling Alliance where they got their first taste of competitions. As they progressed into adult bowling, they entered more competitions and typically bowl in at least three tournaments a year. They will be competing in the state championship in April 2020 and have another try at the nationals in June 2020 in Reno, Nevada.

Both Mollett and Delby have rolled the perfect 300 game. Mollett rolled a 300 in the state championships this year. He admits his nerves were rattled as he rolled one strike after another. The 300 game is impressive, but Mollett and Delby both agree it’s an 800 series (in a three-game match) that’s more impressive.

“A lot of people think that’s a bigger deal than a 300 because you have to be consistent in all three games,” Delby said. 

The pair say through bowling they’ve developed a core group of friends who “now are like family and we enjoy spending time with each and every one of them,” Mollett added.


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