Bowling: Hefelfinger, 85, turns back the clock, rolls 279 game

Family and friends are a given, but Gene Hefelfinger has something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

The 85-year-old Phillipsburg bowler surpassed his 180 average by almost 100 pins with a 279 game in the Church Fellowship League at Thunderbowl Lanes on Monday. Hefelfinger, who has been on the lanes for seven decades, finished with a 223-226-279—728.

“The lane conditions must have been right for me,” he said, smiling. “Normally, I run out of gas in my third game, but not that night.

“I told the guys ‘don’t pinch me, I might wake up.’ ”

While Hefelfinger retired 29 years ago from his job as a mail carrier, those three decades walking his route have likely contributed to his athletic longevity.

“My legs and feet are still strong,” he said. “I’m tickled that I can still do what I do.”

Hefelfinger remembers his first game, about 70 years ago. He finished with a whopping 66. Fast forward seven decades and the lifelong athlete is still bowling in two leagues a week at Thunderbowl.

“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “I really have.”

Turkey tourneys: Bowlers looking for a way to burn off enough calories for a second heaping spoonful of mashed potatoes or another slice of pie have plenty of options this week as several area centers are hosting events. They include:

Night Before Thanksgiving No Tap: Bowl 10 Fairborn kicks off the festivities with a Thanksgiving Eve 9-pin, no-tap tournament on Wednesday at 10 p.m. The event is open to the first 100 entries and one in five will cash. For information, call 878-9521.

13th Annual Russ Maiden Turkey Tap: Beaver-Vu Bowl continues its Turkey Day tradition with a 9-pin, no-tap tournament on Thursday morning at 9 a.m. Check-in starts at 8 a.m. For information, call 426-6771.

Thanksgiving Day Shootout: Poelking Lanes will also host a Thanksgiving morning 9-pin, no-tap event starting at 9 a.m. The top 16, after the three-game qualifier, advance to match play. For information, call 299-5573.

17th Annual Thanksgiving Singles Sweeper: Century Lanes closes out the holiday with a singles sweeper at 7 p.m. Thanksgiving night with one in five bowlers expected to cash. For information, call 849-4220.

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