Bowling News USA - February 11, 2013 Josh Johnson Rolls Into Record Books with Lucid™!
Kathy Petersen was working the registration table at a Jacksonville Junior Bowling Tour event in 2003 when 11-year-old Josh Johnson marched up.
“He said, ‘hi, I’m Josh Johnson and I’m going to win today,’ ” Petersen recalls. “I told him, ‘good for you ... I’ll be watching you.’ ”
When Petersen, who has been involved in youth bowling in the area for 30 years, went to Johnson’s lane she saw something special.
“He did win,” she said. “And he’s been the best junior bowler I’ve ever seen in this area.”
Johnson’s victory that day was the first of dozens of junior titles for the Callahan resident, now 21 and poised to give professional bowling his best shot. His final honor in youth bowling came when he was cited by the United States Bowling Congress for having the highest single-season average for adult male youth with a 246, covering 66 games he rolled in a league at Bowl America Center in Orange Park.
His scores were from the summer of 2011 (when Johnson was still 19, and eligible for one more season as a junior) to the summer of 2012. When the USBC began compiling scores from all over the U.S., plus military installations overseas, Johnson was at the top of his division.
Not only that, he was only eight pins behind Allan Rice II, who was the national high average adult bowler. During the season, Johnson had three perfect games and three sets of 800 or higher, bringing his lifetime total in competition to 20 300 games and 15 800-sets.
The games he rolled toward that average didn’t count the tournaments he competes in almost every weekend. His parents have taken him as far as Las Vegas to enter youth and amateur events.
After dominating youth bowling on the First Coast for more than a decade, Johnson said it’s time to take the next step.
“I’ve got a bulls-eye on my back around here,” he said. “I always seem to be the guy to beat. I’m working on getting a sponsor — anybody and everybody who can help — and an equipment contract. It’s time to move up.”
Johnson can turn pro simply by obtaining a Professional Bowling Association card. But after that, he needs to enter as many regional PBA events to qualify for PBA Tour events.
He’s already placed in two PBA regionals as an amateur.
Until then, Johnson is a busy man. He works for UPS, is taking business classes at Florida State College and coaches a youth bowling league at Orange Park on Saturday mornings.
He somehow finds the time to work on his game.
“He loves it .... you’ve got to have that love for the game to be this good,” said his father, Tony Johnson, who introduced his son to the game the same way his father did.
Josh Johnson’s first bowling experience was at age 7, when his father and mother, Denise, bought him a set of plastic pins and a ball. Josh set up a mini-alley in the family kitchen and quickly developed a knack.
He entered a youth league at the Dunn Avenue Lanes at age 8. Within a year, he won his first youth tournament. In another three years, he was at an unheard-of level in the Jacksonville Junior Tour.
“He got to the 180-and-up average when he was 12,” Petersen said. “Kids with that kind of average are usually 15 or 16.”
Johnson stacked up junior victories and trophies so often that parents of youths in his age division wouldn’t enter their children.
“His last year in the Masters division, there were about 15 other kids,” she said. “The year he got to be too old, the entries went up to 35.”
Johnson was so far ahead of the curve that during competition, he would offer opponents tips when he sensed they were frustrated.
“Then he’d win anyway,” Petersen said.
Johnson’s strength is, in simple terms, his strong right arm. His rolls have been measured at more than 600 revolutions from release to the pins. An average “revs rate,” as bowlers call it, is around 400 for most bowlers who can break 200.
“I’ve always been able to roll it hard,” he said. “The harder you roll it, the more reaction [from the pins] you’re going to get and the more pins you have a chance to knock down.”
But consistency at the highest level, under pressure, is what Johnson will need to master if he wants to make it to the PBA Tour. He understands that more than anyone.
“Once you get to this level, bowling is 99 percent mental,” he said. “If you’re bowling someone head-to-head, you can’t let anything distract you or anyone get in your head. It’s a dogflight. It’s two guys rolling strike after strike after strike, and it comes down to who doesn’t get a strike first.”
Johnson likes that challenge.
“Once you shoot 300, you want to do it every time,” he said.
“Once you get that 800 set, you want to do it every time. Once you win a tournament, you want to win all of them.”
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