Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Wagoner bowled a perfect 300 Wednesday night at the summer bowling league at Marne Lanes on Fort Stewart.
By the end of the evening’s series, Wagoner scored 731 points for Team Trouble, a team he was asked to join just three weeks ago because it was short one player. He bowled a 300, 184 and 247.
Wagoner, who used a 14-pound, 12-ounce Roto-grip Infinite Theory bowling ball, said hitting 300 was not an easy task.
“It takes a little luck and consistency,” he said. “I’ve been an up and down bowler for the last three months. Now I’m getting back into the stride. I really didn’t give it much thought until it got to the 10th frame. The lanes were very funny that night. I got lucky on three of the frames, which is usual with any 300 bowler. But the last frame, I got a little bit weak at the knees as it progressed. The final shot was probably the easiest one because I knew I had the line and I just had to get it to where I needed to.”
Bowling has been a family tradition for Wagoner, who said he started hitting the lanes at 5 years old when he lived in a small town just east of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Wagoner joined the military and was deployed in the Gulf War as part of the 101st Airborne Division.
After returning from the deployment, he went back to his favorite sport and competed in several tournaments. He qualified to become a professional bowler by placing in a regional tournament in 2002, but then he was transferred to Germany.
“So I was unable to continue on,” he said.
He arrived to Fort Stewart in December 2008, and was assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment.
Wagoner started bowling at Marne Lanes in March 2009 and averaged in the mid 170-190s in winter-league bowling. His average now is up to 200.
“I like the atmosphere, the camaraderie and it’s a close knit family,” he said. “I met my wife at a bowling alley, and now we also bowl on a team as well as my two kids.”
Wagoner said his daughter, Courtney, 14, hopes to earn a bowling scholarship and compete at the collegiate level.
His daughter and son, Michael, 7, currently are tournament bowlers who have competed at state events.
Wagoner said bowling helps them stayed focused and creates good work ethics. They practice at least two to three times a week for about two hours.
“When I go to the bowling alley, they go to the bowling alley. We practice all together as a family,” he said.
Wagoner’s first perfect game occurred March 29, 2007.
But Wednesday’s feat definitely was special.
“This 300 was actually different from the first because my family was there to observe this one,” he said. “There wasn’t a whole lot of fanfare. Once I was done, that’s when everyone kind of erupted and the high fives started, but there was my wife and there was the hug and the kiss. They were there to share the moment with.”