PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — John Hinkle won two NCAA bowling championships at Western Illinois University 20 years ago.
He’s rolled so many 300 games he’s lost count. But he told WMBD that he’s never had a game like the one last week.
“I had tears in my eyes in the 11th and 12th frames. I couldn’t tell you where that last ball went, I had so many tears just throwing it,” Hinkle said.
He bowled his 300 on his regular league night at Landmark Lanes in Peoria on April 12. But it was the first time he used a unique ball.
Hinkle bowls two-handed. To do that legally, a bowler can’t have three finger holes in his ball.
So the 39-year-old Peoria Public Schools counselor filled the thumb hole of his ball with his father’s ashes.
Hinkle’s father, John, introduced him and his brother Joe to bowling when they very young. The brothers have bowled on the same team for years.
“I was talking to my brother and told him, ‘I’m shooting a 300 with this ball,” Hinkle said. “And Joe said, ‘do it!’”
John Hinkle Sr. died in 2016, and his son said he wanted to place his ashes in a bowling ball. It took a few years to find someone who could do it.
“This makes up for so many nights growing up when we slept in a bowing alley while our parents were finishing league night,” Joe Hinkle said with a laugh.
Both Hinkle brothers say this 300 game is an incredible accomplishment for their bowling family. And they both firmly believe their father was present for the event last Monday.
“It’s special. Dad shot 298, 299, never had a 300. I had goosebumps, chills,” John Hinkle said. “He was there. This is the best (300 game), and definitely the hardest. I was shaking.”