MORGANTOWN — Chris Elizondo started bowling because of his sister. He continues today for the love of the game.
The Waynesburg, Pa. native who calls Morgantown’s Suburban Lanes his home alley, first hit the lanes when he was 6-years old, when his sister invited him to a league.
“My sister asked me one time if I wanted to join a bowling league, and I asked, when is it,” said Elizondo. “She goes, Saturday morning at 11 o’clock, and I’m like, why would I want to wake up on Saturday morning’s to go bowl when I could be watching SpongeBob or something.”
Despite his commitment to Saturday morning cartoons, Elizondo gave in and attended the league one weekend. The rest, as the old cliché goes, is history.
“I went the next weekend, and 16 years later here I am,” he said.
According to Elizondo, his journey towards a career in bowling took off after that weekend.
“When I was younger, I just really fell in love with it. The guy who owned the pro shop where I was living in Texas got me where I was, and I just kept working at it. I didn’t realize how big the sport was until I moved up north.”
Elizondo kept improving into his high school years, and moved to New York to participate at a school that sponsored the sport at the prep level.
“I did pretty well in high school and met some really good friends,” said Elizondo.
As his prep career prospered, Elizondo planned to attend Missouri to participate in the sport collegiately. Unfortunately, an injury struck at the worst time, derailing his plans.
“I blew out my whole left knee,” said Elizondo. “After my injury, some of my buddies I went to high school with went to this college in Ohio, and they talking to me about it over and over, and I decided, you know what, I think I’m not going to go to Missouri, I’m going to go to Ohio instead.”
The school, Notre Dame (Ohio), provided the perfect stomping grounds for Elizondo, providing a coach with a wealth of knowledge and a nationally competitive program. His squads finished top five nationally in both his freshman and senior years, and top ten during his sophomore and junior years. As an individual, Elizondo paced the field in many of his tournaments.
“I made a few all-tournament teams,” said Elizondo. “Every tournament has nearly 50 teams, and every team has eight people, and the all-tournament team is often top five. So making all-tournament teams is a huge deal in collegiate bowling, because the level is ridiculously high.”
After college, Elizondo has continued to make a splash in leagues across the region, with his greatest achievement coming last month, when he bowled four consecutive 800 series.
Justin Malik, manager at Suburban Lanes, elaborated on what such success means.
“Normally on the average, keeping in mind we have about 700 league bowlers, you’ll see about two or three 800 series a year. Chris had four in a month,” said Malik. “I’ve bowled for over 30 years and leagues and tournaments, and I’ve never seen someone do what he’s done in the period of time he’s done it.”
As he hits the peak of his young career, Elizondo is looking ahead to even bigger goals.
“I’m really going to focus on my bowling for now,” said Elizondo. “At the start of the New Year, I’ll get my PBA card and I’ll try my hand at the tours with the big boys.”