Schalmont High School graduate Liz Kuhlkin continues to reach for the stars, building a phenomenal bowling resume that now includes both national championships and scoring records.
Bowling in the Reis Group Kim Brown Memorial City League Monday night at Towne Bowling Academy, Kuhlkin rolled back-to-back perfect games and then added a 290 game for an 890 triple that established two new records. She not only snapped Bob “Goose” Faragon’s Schenectady Bowling Association record for high triple (889), but more importantly, broke the United States Bowling Congress female standard at the same time.
Kuhlkin’s bid for the rare perfect 900 triple ended when she left an 8-pin in the first frame of her third game, but she still knew the SBA record was within her grasp.
“Honestly, I was obviously pretty nervous in the 10th frame of the last game,” Kuhlkin said. “I didn’t realize until the fifth or sixth frame that I was going for an association record. Then, I left a stone-8 in the first frame. It was pretty disappointing. At that point, I just wanted to make the spare and shoot for what I felt could be my all-time high series.”
Kuhlkin had no idea that she still had a tremendous opportunity to break a pair of records, one local and the other national.
“After I threw four or five strikes in a row in that third game, my teammate, Jessica Aiezza, told me about Goose’s record of 889," Kuhlkin said. "She told me I should step up and strike out for the record. When I stepped up in the 10th frame, I was definitely thinking about that record."
Kuhlkin's bowling records
Making Kuhlkin’s performance even more impressive was the fact that it was seen live on social media by so many people.
“It was Jess’s idea to have it shown on social media, and for sure, it turned out to be a great idea,” Kuhlkin said. “I thought, do I want to make myself additionally nervous by showing the entire thing on social media? But then I realized it was just a great idea. I’ve had so many people message me, saying that they were watching me go for the record. Many of them told me that they were either watching me in their living rooms, or even watching me on their cell phones while they were bowling in their own leagues. That touches my heart. I shared a historical moment with so many people.”
Kuhlkin said her Facebook account originally showed more than 30,000 likes, and that number eventually exploded to more than 100,000. Her story spread quickly to many national bowling sites, including bowl.com.
“I obviously knew that I broke the local association record, but I had no idea that I also broke the national USBC record for women,” Kuhlkin said. “Somebody tagged me a few minutes later, and I had no idea. I wasn’t aware of that at all, and it was certainly incredible additional news to hear that.”
Kuhlkin surpassed the previous USBC high series for women of 889, set back in February by Erica Cutler of Fort Wayne, Ind.
Kuhlkin is no stranger to the national, and even international spotlight. She earned numerous medals, including a gold medal in women’s doubles, while bowling for Junior Team USA in the 2014 World Youth Championships in Hong Kong.
While at Nebraska, Kuhlkin was a member of both the 2013 and 2015 NCAA national championship teams. She not only was named the 2015 National Collegiate Bowler of the Year in 2015 and a three-time NTCA All-American, but she was also selected the school’s first-ever Female Athlete of the Year.
Kuhlkin turned professional after graduating in May of 2015, and she almost immediately won a national pro tournament that summer, the Professional Women’s Bowling Association’s Topeka Open.
“To be able to do this in front of my community is such an amazing accomplishment for me,” Kuhlkin said about her dual-record performance Monday. “This one was special in doing it in front of my parents and the people that watched me grow up.
“It’s been a quite a stretch for me. I can’t ask for a better month of bowling than I’ve had,” she said.
Kuhlkin won the Bud Light Challenge Eliminator over the weekend and also recently triumphed in the PWBA Maple City Open in Hornell, as well as the Jack & Jill Doubles Tournament in Buffalo with her boyfriend, PBA Tour standout Ryan Shafer.