Hannah with her mother, Heidi Diem, after bowling a perfect game Nov. 17 at Largo’s Liberty Lanes.
LARGO – Hannah Diem nearly didn’t bowl on Nov. 17. She wasn’t feeling well, she told her mother, Heidi Diem.
But Hannah reluctantly laced up her shoes anyway, and bowled alongside her mother in the Youth/Adult League they compete in every Sunday at Largo’s Liberty Lanes.
It’s a good thing she did, because what happened next made bowling history.
The 9-year-old Seminole resident rolled 12 strikes resulting in her first perfect 300 game, breaking the United States Bowling Congress – and quite possibly the world – record as the youngest bowler ever to do so.
The previous USBC record of age 10 years, 2 months was set by an Ohio boy in 2006. The youngest female record holder, from Michigan, bowled a perfect game that same year at age 12 years, 4 months. Now, at age 9 years, 6 months and 19 days, Hannah is the youngest bowler to roll a perfect USBC-certified game.
“I was so excited,” Hannah said. “I didn’t think about breaking the record, but I really wanted to.”
She added, “My mom was more emotional than I was. She was sobbing. When I say sobbing, it’s not an understatement.”
Hannah’s 300 game was the last of the evening’s three-game series, where she bowled 730 total. She rolled 204 and 226 in her previous two games, respectively.
“It wasn’t some fluke of a 300 game,” Heidi said. “It wasn’t just some lucky thing.”
Her daughter added, “I was consistent the whole night.”
Right before the evening’s final game, Hannah asked her mother, “When do you think I’ll bowl my first 300 game?”
Taking her daughter’s age into consideration, her mother replied, “Probably next year.”
Then, Hannah rolled a strike in the first frame, followed by a second and a third.
“By the time she got 6, 7 and 8 strikes, people started talking about her and coming down to our lane,” Heidi said. A large group gathered to watch Hannah bowl, “but it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.”
Bowling alongside the Diems that night was 17-year-old Kristian Sieradzki, who also bowls with Hannah in Liberty Lanes’ Youth League on Saturdays.
Sieradzki and Hannah went strike for strike the majority of the game. But she eventually defeated the Seminole High School senior, who wound up with nine strikes total for a score of 288.
“They were going back and forth with strikes,” Heidi said. “That’s what made it special. It became this back and forth duel.”
Sieradzki, whose average score is 230 and is considering an offer to bowl in college, said he didn’t mind being overshadowed by his younger teammate.
“It was very surprising,” he said, “but she’s a good bowler,” especially after attending an intensive camp at Kegel Training Center in Lake Wales this past August. “Now she’s way more consistent.”
After the game, Heidi’s mother proudly posted a photo of the screen boasting Hannah’s final score on Facebook. Liberty Lanes re-posted the image on its own page, and Heidi was contacted by a Gulf Coast USBC board member, who said Hannah might be the youngest USBC member to ever bowl a perfect game. This was later confirmed by the USBC. Heidi also said initial research indicates that Hannah has broken a world record, but this still needs to be submitted to and confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records.
Hannah, a fourth-grader at Madeira Beach Fundamental Elementary School, began bowling when she was 5. She first picked up a bowling ball at an end-of-the-school-year bash organized by a friend’s parent after they completed kindergarten.
“After that, I was just hooked,” Hannah said.
That summer, she attended a daily camp at Liberty Lanes with coach James “JC” Crouch, a USBC bronze-level coach, who recognized Hannah’s natural ability for the sport and quickly moved her off bumpers and into the Youth League Junior Division.
At 8, Hannah was bumped up to the Senior Division, where she regularly bowls with high school students. Her average score soared from 42 her first year to 162 now. A member of the Liberty Bombers, a competitive youth bowling team at Liberty Lanes, Hannah won the USBC Florida State Youth Tournament in her division last year.
Next year she hopes to compete on a national level, and has her mind set on competing in the North Pointe Junior Gold Championships in Buffalo, N.Y.
She also hopes to one day be a professional bowler.
“I want that (USBC) Queens (Championship) title when I grow up,” she said.