Dawson Kohl made national bowling history on Saturday morning.
The 10-year-old Eisenhower Elementary School fifth grader set an Iowa record and became the third-youngest bowler in United States Bowling Congress history to record a 300 game. Kohl shot the perfect game while competing in the Saturday Morning Junior League at Cherry Lanes.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking,” said Kohl, who finished with a 701 series. “I was kind of nervous when I got the front six, and I started to relax a little when I got the front nine. But when I threw the last shot, I could barely walk because I was so nervous.
“When I saw the last pin fall in the 12th frame, I was very happy because it was my first one. It was like, ‘Oh my God, I just shot a 300.’ It’s a great feeling and it feels good to get my name out there.”
According to the USBC, Hannah Diem, of Seminole, Fla., became the youngest bowler to shoot a 300 when she accomplished the feat in November 2013 at the age of 9 years, 6 months and 19 days. Kai Struthers set the record for the youngest boy to shoot a 300 with his perfect game in January 2019 at the age of 10 years, 2 months. Kohl is 10 years, 6 months.
Kohl has been bowling since age 3 and practices almost every day. His father, Heath, served as the general manager at Creslanes, which closed in August, and now coaches the bowling team at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo. The younger Kohl practices at Cadillac Lanes in Waterloo as well as Cherry Lanes.
“Dawson has had the front five and the front six before, so it was kind of no big deal at first,” Heath Kohl said. “Then it got up to seven and eight and he started to sit by himself. You could tell he was getting a little nervous when the crowd started building up a little behind us.
“When he got to 11 in a row, my nerves kind of lost it. He had to be nervous, because I know I was. I kind of thought he might have missed it outside on the 12th ball, but he hit it flush.”
Dawson Kohl put 10 in the pit on almost every shot during the perfect game. The closest call came in the fifth frame, when he shot a little high and tripped the 4-pin forward.
“That was really the only lucky break,” Heath Kohl said. “Otherwise, they were all pretty good. He made a lot of good shots.”
“I’ve never experienced anything like it, especially coming from a 10-year-old,” Heath Kohl said. “You don’t expect it. You see so many of them in men’s league, you kind of expect it there. But it’s kind of surreal when it’s a 10-year-old.
“It was more nerve-wracking for me to watch him throw it than it was for me to throw one myself. It was awesome.”
Dawson Kohl has a way to go to catch his dad for 300 games. Heath Kohl has 51 perfect games in his career. But Saturday could be the first of many.
“I don’t think I’ll be as nervous as I was for the first one,” Dawson Kohl said. “Knowing I already have one, I think I’ll be a little more relaxed.”