One way to tell a bowler’s degree of excellence is by his 700 series.
“I don’t keep track of 700s,” said Rob Harvischak, who has higher scores to remember — like his 10 800 sets and 14 perfect games.
The 21-year-old’s latest 800 was 879, a Youngstown Bowling Association record.
It happened during the Belchyk/Action Plumbing Classic at Holiday the night of Feb. 24.
Harvischak’s 279-300-300 snapped the previous city association best of 867 by Adam Barta on Dec. 26, 2001. It also topped the Holiday house record of 866 by Steve Harper Jr. on April 3, 2008.
“After a good start in the first game, I told myself that I’d better not waste it,” Harvischak said of his 279 that began with eight strikes. He left a stubborn 10 pin in the ninth frame before striking out in the tenth.
Harvischak, a 2007 Campbell Memorial graduate now at YSU, continued with a good line into the pocket for his second game.
“Before I knew it, it was the seventh or eighth frame and I hadn’t missed yet. I knew that as long as I didn’t get stupid with the shots and get fast with my feet [rushing each shot], I could do something pretty special. I just didn’t think I wouldn’t miss the rest of the night.”
In the first few frames of the third game, Harvischak moved his feet and his target a little to stay ahead of the transition.
“Sometimes, I’ll get lazy and move but not a big enough move. I knew I was throwing the ball great, so I just trusted my moves and trusted each shot.”
After strikes in the first six frames, Harvischak had a bout with doubt in the seventh.
“I threw a pretty good shot and, initially, I saw the 7-10 standing. Then, about a second or two later, the 7-10 just brushed off each side of the pin deck. At that moment, I knew I had a chance to break the record.”
As is customary, the pressure-packed 10th frame brought out the curious.
“The entire league stopped bowling and watched,” Harvischak said.
He didn’t hesitate on his first throw.
“I couldn’t have thrown a better shot,” he said.
For the second ball, he was nervous.
“Knowing what I already had total-wise, I was a little nervous to say the least,” he said of the possibility of a 9-count and spare resulting in a 289 game and 868 series which would have beaten the house record by two pins and city record by one.
The second throw missed the target a little.
“The ball came in the pocket — not flush, but not too light — and mixed the pins up a little and the 7 pin was the last to fall.”
Relieved, Rob’s one thought prior to the third ball was: don’t foul.
“Holding the record meant more than the back-to-back 300s,” he said. “It wasn’t like I wasn’t trying to shoot back-to-back, it’s just that the record meant a little bit more.”
Among those watching were Harvischak’s Our Gang Lounge teammates Steve Harper Jr., Dave Ellis, Ben Ferencik and Mark Guthridge.
Harvischak’s 27 consecutive strikes on lanes 19 & 20 were the backbone of the 879 that topped his previous best of 838 during a junior/adult league at Boardman Lanes in July, 2007.
When all the handshaking and back-slapping subsided, Harvischak went and got food with some friends and tried to unwind and absorb the record.
His Ebonite Mission 2.0 — the only ball he threw all night — was bought about four months ago from Steve Sullivan at Camelot.
“I got to the alleys just before practice ended, threw one shot with it and struck and I said, ‘We’re going with this tonight.’ ”
The “original” Mission remains his favorite ball, but the 2.0 definitely helped its cause.
Harvischak, a member of the YSU bowling club team, bowls in three other leagues: Armando’s Saab Classic at West Side. Big Dan’s Memorial Classic at Sunset Lanes in Sharon and Wednesday Night Men at Bowladrome.
When he had a moment to reflect, Harvischak said he dedicated the achievement to his family and the late Scooter Trgovac.
“He had a talk with me before [he died] when he said, ‘You’ll be doing big things in the sport before too long.’ ” Harvischak said of the man who had an influence on him. “I said: ‘this one is for you.’ ”
How long will his 879 stand?
“Harper’s stood for three years and Adam’s was about 10 years, so who knows? It could be next week or it could be next year.
Marla Chicase rolled 300-812 in Thursday Matchplay Ladies at Amron on Feb. 24.
Her other games were 257 and 255.
Tom Graham’s 289-810 led in Belchyk/Action Plumbing Classic at Holiday and Ron Taffaria Sr. had 801 in Sanko Photography/ITAM Classic at Holiday on Feb. 19.
Corie Hittle had his first 300 in the Thursday Night Sportsman League at Wedgewood on Feb. 24 when his set was 640.
After defeated DeClan Construction Co., Thursday Night Sportsman’s third-quarter winner was 10-Pin Standing.
Hammer’s Crew of Al Mickel, Joan Benson, Betty Talbert, Willie Provitt and Norm “Hammer” Phillips won F.D. Mason’s third quarter at Holiday.