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BOWLING: Richard's Kraemer experiences double perfection (PHOTO)

As a teen-ager, Austin Kraemer has already experienced perfection. Twice.

At age 15, while bowling with friends on Nov. 16 in the Washtenaw County Tournament at Belmark Lanes in Ann Arbor, Austin rolled a 300 game – 12 straight strikes – on his way to winning the individual championship. His team won the team event as well.

“It felt great,” said Austin, a sophomore at Gabriel Richard High School in Riverview. “I was so shocked that it would happen at such a young age. It was amazing. Words can’t describe it.”

Austin received his 300 ring from the United States Bowling Congress on Jan. 11, the day before his 16th birthday.

A week later, in last Saturday’s Wayne County Bowling Tournament at Cherry Hill Lanes in Dearborn Heights, he bowled yet another perfect game to help the Pioneers advance to the championship round.

This time, with his teammates and hundreds of bowlers and spectators watching his every turn, Austin was overcome with emotion.

“I turned around and saw everybody cheering and screaming my name,” he said. “I started to cry, I was so happy. I couldn’t believe it happened again.”

This time, he combined the 300 with a 274 opening game and a 245 closing game for an 819 series. Another ring will be forthcoming for the 800 series – his first.

Saturday’s scores well exceeded the 196 average he carries in the Catholic League.

A native of Belleville, Kraemer got his start at age 5 in bumper bowling at Taylor Lanes. Two excellent bowlers – his grandfather, Jerry Kraemer, who has five perfect games to his credit, and his father, Jeremy Kraemer – introduced him to the sport. After one season, Austin told his dad he didn’t need the bumpers in the gutters any more.

Austin was enrolled in the youth program at Lodge Lanes in Belleville, where he continues to bowl on weekends.

Now that he’s in high school, Austin is coached by Bob Stempien, a Hall of Famer with 17 sanctioned perfect games of his own.

On Saturday, Stempien saw that Austin wasn’t doing well in practice so he moved him over “a couple boards” on the lanes.

The team’s lead-off bowler, Austin threw nine straight strikes in his first game before finishing with a three-pin split on lanes 21 and 22, finishing with a 274.

Moving to lanes 25 and 26, the entire team opened with 11 straight strikes and Austin went on to get 12 strikes on his own.

In the 10th frame, Austin admitted he was feeling the pressure and his hand was shaking. Stempien called Austin aside after the 11th strike.

“I made him come talk to me so he wouldn’t rush,” Stempien said. “I chirped in his ear a little bit. He got up and threw a fairly decent shot.”

“Coach calmed me down,” Austin said. “He said, ‘Throw a good shot. Don’t worry about anything else.’ It paid off.”

Bedlam ensued. Teammates saw Austin’s reaction – he admitted to getting a bit lightheaded – and checked to make sure he was OK.

Jeremy Kraemer said it was a thrill watching his son bowl the perfect game on Saturday.

“He couldn’t miss,” Kraemer said. “I was sitting by parents on the Belleville team, since we’re from Belleville. They were excited and asking questions and whispering. It was just exciting.

“Austin looked a little more nervous this time than last time. It may have had something to do with his peers being there – people he knew – on a bigger stage. He got to share it with friends and teammates. It was exciting.”

The third game, 245, capped the 819 series. Gabriel Richard qualified for the third seed and advanced to the afternoon round of the tournament. The Pioneers lost to Kennedy in the quarterfinals, but it was still a satisfying day for the smallest school in the 21-team tournament.

Joining Austin in the tournament were teammates Zack Stempien (who bowled a 663 series), Zach Barr (598), Austin Stempien, Christian O’Callaghan and Cody Rich.

“I was thrilled to death about what the team did,” Coach Stempien said. “This was our third year in the Wayne County Tournament. The first year, they stood around with their jaws lowered and finished next to last. The next year, we were 12th or 13th. The objective this year was to make the cut and they did. I was pretty impressed. It’s a good bunch of boys.

The same boys were good enough to win the Division 4 state championship in 2013. Austin has high hopes that the Pioneers – who are unbeaten in the Catholic League – can repeat as state champs.

“We have a good squad,” he said. “I definitely think we will succeed.”





Last Updated: 1/21/2014 2:31:13 PM EST

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