The No. 4 pin danced, wobbled and hung in the air for what seemed like an eternity.
Devin Elekes and his teammates watched, hoped and did their best to will the rogue pin to the lane below. Elekes clasped his hands behind his head, braced himself for the worst and looked on as the crowd at Turkeyfoot Lanes hung on the edge of their seats.
When gravity won out and the pin fell, Elekes claimed his place in history as the first Coventry bowler to record a perfect game.
"I threw it and the fourth pin started wiggling and I thought I threw a 299, but then it fell and the whole place just went crazy," Elekes said. "I was thinking, 'Holy crap, I actually did it.'"
The decisive 12th strike came after two clean strikes to begin the final frame. As Elekes picked up his ball and approached the lane for his final roll, his knees began to knock and a knot formed in his stomach. Rolling a 300 game is a lifelong pursuit for many bowlers, but Elekes joined the exclusive club at the age of 18.
Much like a baseball pitcher working on a no-hitter, Elekes became persona non grata for his teammates as his perfect effort progressed.
"I look back and my teammates would either look away or my coach would look away," Elekes said with a smile.
Elekes remained focused on each roll and was unaware of his run at perfection until he was near the end of the game.
"Actually, I didn't even notice it until the eighth frame when someone in the back said, 'Wow,' and I looked up and realized I had eight strikes in a row going," Elekes said.
His previous best effort was 278 and there were two matches last season in which he was within four strikes of a perfect score.
Elekes averages about 200 pins, but joked with friends the day before the season opener that he was going to roll a 300. Getting there was a matter of listening to his coach, Steve Kinty, keeping his feet slow, maintaining his form and remaining calm.
Elekes, whose uncle Stan Leibert, bowls professionally in Texas, took up the sport at the age of 5. He stopped bowling competitively when he turned 13, but returned to competition for Coventry last season. After more than three years away, he missed the sport and added it to a busy schedule that also includes football in the fall and baseball in the spring.
"It was a great experience (coming back)," Elekes said. "They welcomed me back and it's a great atmosphere."
Elekes' sister took a picture of the score sheet from his historic day and he plans to get a ring made with the number 300 on it to commemorate his accomplishment. His name also hangs on a plaque on the wall at Turkeyfoot Lanes alongside those of the other bowlers who have rolled a perfect game at the bowling alley.
Page 2 of 2 - Now that he has joined the club of bowlers with a perfect game to their name, Elekes knows another such effort is possible. However, he also realizes that 12 consecutive strikes is a rare feat. His accomplishment was made even more special because of the memory of former Coventry bowling coach Dave McCormick, who passed away suddenly in July 2012.
McCormick spoke to Elekes often at youth bowling events and encouraged him to bowl in high school, but Elekes never took him up on that challenge until after McCormick's passing.
"Now I'm here and I truly believe he probably kicked over that four pin," Elekes said.