WATERLOO — A shot of adrenaline ran through Leah Frost as the crowd huddled around her lane during Friday afternoon’s bowling dual with Cedar Falls at Maple Lanes.
Waterloo East’s returning state champion took a perfect game into the 10th frame for the first time in her bowling career and savored the moment. She delivered three more strikes, becoming Iowa’s fourth girl to record a sanctioned 300 since 2005.
“She probably threw the best 10th frame I’ve seen anyone throw after they’ve had that many in a row,” East coach Mike Weber said. “She was pretty calm and steady. Everything looked really good. She didn’t have a bad shot where she got lucky. Everything was right there.”
Frost is no stranger to stringing strikes together. She bowled a 290 game as part of a 500 series during last year’s Class 2A state meet that contributed to both individual and team titles. Prior to state, she had a 289 game during a narrow dual win over rival Waterloo West.
On Friday against another metro rival, Frost says she didn’t begin to think about 300 until the eighth frame.
“Once you get two or three strikes in a row you just want to keep going with it,” Frost related. “The lanes were just perfect for me. It was just my day, I guess.”
The final frame was unlike anything Frost had experienced inside a bowling alley.
“Before I threw my first ball in the 10th, everyone was watching,” Frost said. “It was a big adrenaline rush. There were people getting their phones out to record it and everyone’s focus was on me.
“I really had to make sure I took a deep breath before each ball because I was shaking. It took a lot more focus, but I just tried to breathe and do what I’ve been doing the whole game.”
After releasing her final shot, Frost heard a coach say, “There it is.” She said she watched the ball hit the pocket and her heart skipped a beat when all the pins fell. Teammates mobbed the senior before she had a chance to walk off the lane.
“I think the 300 was great because that’s every bowler’s goal — a perfect game,” Frost said. “To finally get it at a school meet before I graduate was really cool.”
Frost is part of strong tradition of youth bowling in Waterloo. She began competing in second grade through a school program initiated by Wally Knox at Cadillac Lanes. That year she also joined her first youth league at Maple Lanes.
In addition to bowling, Frost has excelled as a pitcher for the East softball team working as a mainstay in the varsity rotation since the summer following eighth grade.
“I think bowling is one of the reasons why I’m a pitcher,” Frost said. “From throwing a heavy ball underhand, in the second grade I was the only person that could get the ball across the plate and that kind of developed me into a pitcher.”
Similar to Frost’s steady arm during Friday’s perfect game, Weber says her approach to competition has remained consistent.
“She’s always been a competitor,” Weber points out. “Same way in softball. She’s always striving to get better and she’s always asking questions if anything needs to be changed.”
Frost’s high series of 513 helped East set a school record with its team score of 3,227. Her game average of 217.3 leads the state, while the defending champion Trojans continue to mesh as a group.
“They were probably more gelled as a team during that meet and that match than I’ve seen them all year long,” Weber said. “Obviously that (300) helped out. They all bowled really well the first game and that continued on.”
Frost’s success in softball and bowling has generated interest from colleges, and she plans to wait until after the season to make a decision on which path she’ll pursue.
“Growing up I always wanted to go to college to play softball,” Frost said. “But after winning state as an individual and team and all the success I’ve had bowling, it kind of makes me want to see how much I could do at a higher level.”
Frost has taken plenty of pride in the strong reputation her school’s bowling program has gained.
“It means a lot because bowling is not a sport that is paid a lot of attention to,” Frost said. “It feels good to be a part of a very structured program and a very successful program.”