Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
In the 2013 State Games bowling tournament, M.A. Copeland, 78, wondered if he’d had one too many birthdays because he finished roughly 70 pins shy of the 1,300 six-game tournament he’s use to.
But at 1224, he was comfortably leading his division, Men 5 (averages 181-200 points a game.
"It was a decent score, but it should have been higher," Copeland said. "Well, I was disappointed to be honest with you because I started out so good. After the first three games I was about 60 pins over [my average]."
He was one of 26 bowlers to head out to Family Lanes Bowling on North Hills to compete in Day 1 of the two-day tournament.
The highlight of Copeland’s day game at the end of his second game when he lined together six strikes to finish with a 245.
"I threw strikes," he said. "Seven or eight in that game."
But this wasn’t his first State Games. He’s bowled so many he’s lost count but knows he only missed one – three years ago after having shoulder surgery.
Since then, he hasn’t quite had the same strength as before. He had to drop a pound in his ball, from 15 to 14, which he said has made a difference. The pins at the end of the lane weigh close to 40 pounds so he’s lost that “driving power.”
Copeland’s recent struggles though haven’t kept him away from the lanes. As a mutli-sport athlete in high school and later a coach at high schools throughout Mississippi, bowling is his one and only.
"It's just something I've enjoyed all my life," Copeland said. "Bowling is a good game, I can still do it on a competitive bases If my strength holds out, I can still be pretty competitive.
He loves it so much because its an individual sport that you can combine scores together for a team score, but really you’re only ever competing against yourself.
"Bowling is something I can do by myself. I can do it with somebody, with a group, whatever," he said. "It's a lifetime sport ... But I get disgusted I can't do what I use to do."
Copeland's score held as the day's highest until Jim Walker bowled in the third session. He posted a 1,359 to close the day with a comfortable footing in Men's Division 6 (average 201+).
In Men's Division 3, Bradley Bishop struck an even 1,000. Mark Enterkin finished in second at 966 after Day 1.
The women's highest totally belongs to Karen Pierce in Women's Division 3 at 1021. Mona McGrane finished 10 pins behind, but leads Women's Division 4 at 1011.
Beverly Lewis is sitting alone atop the Women's Division 2 (averages 121-140) with a 956 from the first squad.
Leading Women's Division 1 (averages under 100) is Erica Walker at 690.
In the youth divisions, Boy's Division 4's Will Arttman rolled a 619, besting Division 5 leader Jason Lashane by two pins. Lashane finished the day at 617. Addie Madden scored 467 to lead Girl's Division 1.