ST. LOUIS — His dad bowled. His mom bowled. His sister bowled. So, Ryan Warner was meant to bowl. The question is how well could he carry the family legacy?
Following a 7th place finish – good enough to medal – at the Illinois State bowling championships last weekend, the Collinsville senior is thrilled with crossing another dream off his list.
“It feels good to be top 12 in the state," said Ryan.
“I averaged 221 and at State I averaged 222. So, I one-upped my average from the season.”
Ryan has had quite the season. Not only did he medal at State, but he's bowled 14 11-strike games this year.
It's consistency he can't quite explain. But he has been bowling since the age of eight.
“It’s hard to explain but the more you practice the better you get at it," said Ryan.
“I just feel like the more I practice, the more I work on stuff, the better I can be and the better teammate I can be.”
But his inspiration to continue bowling at a high level was intensified this year after his brother, Zach, passed away last May.
"He passed away last May, May 2. Ever since I’ve been carrying this around my neck," said Ryan, pointing to his pendant.
Ryan wears it at all times. And especially holds it close while under pressure during competition. The pendant reads "always with me," and it has Zach's ashes inside.
“Sometimes I’m struggling and I just kind of like, think for a little bit, and relax, and just know he’s with me and I can get through it.”
Ryan's coach, Sean Hay, picked up on Ryan's inspiration.
“Anytime you’re doing stuff in the memory of someone, it’s a double-edged sword," said the Collinsville high school bowling coach.
"It can put too much pressure on. But he was always able to maintain the focus and everything. So, at the end of tournaments, I could see him handling the necklace, and so it was neat to see that for sure," he said.
Ryan has yet to bowl that elusive 300. But he's hoping it will come soon, as he plans on bowling for a college team in the fall.
“It’s a fun sport. First of all, it’s not outside," joked Ryan.