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Bowlers hoping to make strikes at State Games of America

Veteran bowlers Nancy Hazelwood, Sue Lacks, Nannie Throckmorton and Barbara Talbott are among the best bowlers in Halifax County in their respective age groups.

The proved they could roll with the best the state has to offer while bowling and medaling at the Commonwealth Games earlier this month, and they are taking things a notch higher next weekend in Harrisburg, Pa., at the State Games of America.

Hazelwood came home with a bronze medal at this year’s Commonwealth Games, Throckmorton won a silver medal, and Talbott took home a bronze medal, with all three bowlers qualifying for the State Games of America.

Lacks qualified for the biannual State Games of America by winning the gold medal in 2011.

Hazelwood has competed in five Commonwealth Games, but this is her first trip to the State Games of America.

“We’ve been invited before, but we’ve never gone,” Hazelwood explained.

She has medaled three times in the Commonwealth Games, winning the gold medal her first year and later a bronze medal before taking home a silver medal this year.

“We bowled four games and if your score plus handicap is higher than those bowling in your division, you advance to the finals,” she explained.

“Third and second-place bowlers bowl against one another, and if you win you bowl against the first-place bowler, if you win that you get the gold.”

“I’m very excited about going to Pennsylvania,” added Hazewood.

“I’ve bowled here a lot of years, and this is one of my proudest accomplishments.

“I have a few 200 games and 600 sets, but this is pretty exciting.”

Lacks, who also competed in the 55-65 year-old age group at the Commonwealth Games is also looking forward to the trip.

“I’m very excited,” said Lacks, who has competed in four Commonwealth Games.

“I’m looking forward to the competition with different people and seeing different things in the area.

“I don’t have any idea how many people will be there, but there will probably be a lot.

“My son lives 30 miles away, so me and my husband will go up separate but still plan to bowl with them.”

Throckmorton, at age 81 still a championship bowler, came home from the Commonwealth Games with a silver medal, but actually won her age group.

“I won but the girl I was bowling against had a bigger handicap score, so she got the gold,” said Throckmorton

“I’ve been to five Commonwealth Games, but this is my first trip up there.

“Just to be with these ladies is exciting.”

South Boston Bowling Hall of Famer Barbara Talbott has competed in 45 different state tournaments and at least seven Commonwealth Games.

A bronze medalist at this year’s Commonwealth Games, she bowled in the 75-year and older age group.

“Just go and do the best you can, it’s about the camaraderie and fun,” she pointed out.

“This is my first trip to Pennsylvania,” added Talbott.

“I’ve been to 45 different state tournaments, and I’m just as excited about this one.  I just love to bowl, and I’ll try it again next year if I’m here.”

Each of the ladies admitted to not having practiced a great deal between the end of bowling season in Halifax County and the Commonwealth Games.

“We went up there and none of us had thrown a ball in two months,” they agreed.

“If you don’t enjoy it, stay at home.”

Bowling has a rich tradition in Halifax County, but participating is declining, and the sport deserves more than that,” Lacks noted.

“You don’t hear as much about bowling as you do softball or baseball in Halifax County,” she said.

“Young people are not coming out, so maybe this will bring some attention to the sport,” added Talbott.

The State Games of America is a biennial amateur multip-sport event and is organized by the National Congress of State Games.

Athletes qualify by earning a medal in their respective State Games (Commonwealth Games) in the previous two years.

Over 12,000 athletes compete in 24 different sports in the State Games of America whenever they’re held.

All bowlers will roll six games over a two-day session with all scores counting, and after completing six games the top five in each division will advance to a step ladder final round on Sunday.