Most high school sophomores would be happy with a seventh-place finish in the state bowling tournament, which is good for second-team All-Ohio honors.
Then again, Granville’s Jon Massey is not like most sophomore bowlers.
“I was upset with seventh. I had the mind-set to win it,” Massey said after rolling a 636 series, 28 pins out of first place at Wayne Webb’s Columbus Bowl and best among 10th-graders in the state. “But I guess I have two more years to do it.
“I thought I was going to win. I was really confident coming in. I bowled well at the start and a lot better at the end. I was nervous until I threw that first ball, but not the rest of the time.”
Massey almost felt like he was back home at Newark’s Valley Lanes, with his teammates who like to get loud cheering him on and a team bowling next to him that also cranked up the volume. He earlier had rolled a 731 series at Webb to help the Blue Aces win the Mid-State League-Ohio Division tournament.
“There was a lot more oil than was expected,” Massey said of the state. “But I have different balls for heavy, light and medium oils.”
Thanks to his dad, Mike, Jon Massey practically has grown up at bowling centers in Connecticut and Whitehall. Now, Mike Massey manages Valley Lanes, where Jon not only works but practices and competes with his Granville team.
“My dad has more 300s, 11 in a rows, 299s and 800s than I can count,” said Jon, who started bowling when he was 3. He also bowls in an adult/junior league at Valley with his mom, Tabitha Alfano.
“We never even used bumpers with him,” Mike Massey said. “It’s just second nature to him, more of an enjoyment. He just loves to bowl.”
Jon credits Granville coach Todd Bowen with changing his game for the better.
“Last year, I pretty much just threw it. This year, I was a bowler,” Jon said. “He made me keep changing balls. I now have eight, and I’m getting two more.”
“I tried to teach him all the lane conditions last year,” Bowen said. “But from Day 1 this year, he’s not just throwing it on the line. He made the transition, just like that.
“I started him on 20 boards left, on parts of the lane he’s not used to. From 16 out to 8. Most adults can’t make a move like that. He’s relentless and confident from anywhere on the lane.”
Massey has a 299 game and 816 series to his credit. He followed his series in the MSL-Ohio with a victorious 725 in the Highland Invitational.
Bowen thinks he’s just scratching the surface of his potential.
“Next year, I think he can make an equal jump like he did from last year to this year,” Bowen said.
“He should be proud of seventh in the state. Less than one percent of high school athletes get to see a state title. Plus, we’re a small school competing against the big schools. We’ve still gotten to the district five straight times. But I think they’re going to divisions next year.”
Bowling’s popularity is on the rise among Ohio high schools. When the Licking County League starts again in the fall, some schools are expected to add bowling. Granville had 46 bowlers out this year, up from the normal 18 to 20, and had ‘A’ and ‘B’ reserve teams.
Massey wants to help put the Blue Aces on the map. He has four junior tournaments coming up, including the Newark USBC Shirley Amos Youth Memorial Bowling Tournament on March 23-24 at Valley Lanes, as he looks to grow his game.
“I have a 209 average right now, which would rank me 70th in the PBA,” he said. “I think I can get that up to a 220. It’s pretty realistic.
“I plan on bowling in college, and on the PBA Tour.”