Mallory Nutting checks the results daily.
The Monmouth resident and Gardiner Area High School graduate is the leader in the clubhouse, so to speak, in the all-events division of the United States Bowling Congress Women’s National Championships.
Nutting, 28, competed recently in the Division II category, for those with averages between 175-189, and bowled some of the best games of her life, finishing with a pin total of 1,854 in nine games, that included 607 in team competition, 615 in doubles and 631 in singles.
The tournament, held in Reno, Nev., is open to anyone and doesn’t end until June 30. Nutting originally went to compete in the USBC Open championships, coincidently held in Reno this year, and decided to see if there were openings in the women’s championships. There were and she competed in both tournaments.
“They’re not usually in the same state,” said Nutting. “I finished bowling in the Open and I was just going to do a couple of side tournaments.”
The side tournament produced her best results in Nevada. She originally held a 54-pin lead, but that dwindled to 10 last week, and there are still plenty of bowlers left.
“It’s because they have to allow time for everybody around the country to come and participate,” she said. “It gives everybody a fair chance to go.”
Nutting was an athlete at Gardiner, pitching for the softball team and playing boys ice hockey. She went on to play hockey for three years for Buffalo State College before a knee injury ended her playing career. Most of her time in Gardiner was spent playing for the boys junior varsity team but she got a little time on the varsity with the likes of Ray Jean and Andy Nagy.
“I loved it,” she said. “That was my favorite team to play for.” K.C. Johnson, who coached the JVs at the time, recalled Nutting gave as good as she got.
“She got blasted (in one game) and one of her buddies said he’d get the guy back,” Johnson recalled. “She said âI got it,’ and she just leveled him. She was as feisty as they come. She was one of my favorites.”
Nutting was introduced to bowling by her stepfather, Shawn Grasse, in the fifth grade and continued through her senior year in high school before taking a break for several years while she lived in Buffalo.
“When she came back to Maine she got back into bowling,” said Donna Bowden, manager of Sparetime Recreation in Hallowell, one of Nutting’s two bowling venues, the other in Lewiston.
Bowden has watched Nutting improve over the last few years.
“Part of it is her drive to be better,” Bowden. “She’s in here practicing. It’s her passion for the game.”
Nutting has added a coach as well as a boyfriend in Jimmy Clark, a certified instructor with 24,300 games to his credit.
“We bowled together when we were younger,” Nutting said.
Clark has simplified Nutting’s delivery, making sure her weight is more evenly distributed, along with other small changes. He believes she can significantly improve on her 185 average.
“This year she’ll probably see at least a 10-pin improvement in average,” Clark said. “She could see up to a 25-pin improvement. The more you can practice with proper guidance, the better you’ll be.”
Nutting owns eight bowling balls, all weighing in the neighborhood of 15 pounds. Her high game is 254 with a high series of 667 and she has yet to realize her potential.
“I’ve always been an athlete,” she said. “It was something I wasn’t sure I was going to like. It’s nice to see when you put in the work and see results. It’s something I can continue doing.”