TOWAMENCIN – Lucas Francis has emerged as a bright young star in the North Penn athletic program, but it’s not on the usual gridiron or hardwood court. Instead, Francis dominates at the bowling lane.
“Growing up my grandfather, when he was younger he bowled, and he just taught me when I was younger, and he got me into my first league when I was probably about eight or nine, and then I loved it from there. Then I just continued and eventually got into tournaments and then got into the national stuff and then that brought me to [North Penn bowling],” Francis explained.
A lot of high school students at some point have probably got their friends and gone bowling just for fun, but for someone who wants to compete at high level, it’s a little bit more difficult to perfect the craft of bowling. It’s not like baseball where you can go hit off a tee whenever or basketball where you can go to a park and put up shots. Bowlers have to find opportunities to practice and refine their skills.
“My parents have really helped me through it and everything because it can be expensive bowling all the time, and I noticed over the summer I still do well, but school bowling how there’s practices every week almost, the repetition has really helped and doing it over and over again has allowed me to perfect it,” Francis explained.
When going through his weekly bowling schedule, Francis said he bowls about 20 games a week.
“In the middle of bowling season, I’m getting home at 6:30 every night, so on away matches I’ll do homework on the bus. As soon as I get home I’ll eat, shower, and then be doing homework until I finish,” Francis said on how he balances schoolwork with bowling.
Francis had been bowling on his own before he became a freshman, and when the time came to join the high school team, he was unsure about it.
“I had heard about [the bowling program] from past bowlers, and I thought it would be good just to try out just to see how competitive it was, and it turned out to be better than I thought. I didn’t think it would be as competitive because I didn’t think we would have as many good bowlers as we do, so I just enjoy doing it. I just hope more people come out next year because we have a lot of seniors and they’re all going to graduate,” Francis said.
This year, the first winter sports event of the season was a bowling match against Upper Mooreland. Francis kicked off the winter season with a bang as he bowled a perfect game to start the season.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start just cause it’s really hard to do and to have that as my first match was a good reliever almost, and I just took off from there and continued doing really well,” Francis said.
He then bowled another perfect game later in the season. Francis has many accomplishments from school records, leading the Suburban One League in a number of categories, and being the Suburban One Champion this year. But perhaps his biggest accomplishment is that he has won the Youth Open Championship, a national tournament, twice.
“It’s a great title that not too many people can say they have earned,” Francis stated.
This bowling season consisted of a lot of “ups and downs.” After starting the season nearly 30-0, the Knights lost to their bowling rival, Quakertown. The Knights were out of first place by a game and found themselves up against Quakertown at the end of the season. They were victorious this time.
“That match itself was really back and forth. We won our first game and lost the second. We had to win our last one, and it was a really good group effort to finish the season,” Francis described.
This year, Francis helped lead the Knights to their 6th straight league title. For only a sophomore, Francis has a big role on the team as he is already a captain.
“It’s cool to have because not having as many young bowlers and being a captain, it’s really cool. It’s fun to teach even the more inexperienced bowlers and see their improvement over the year,” Francis said.
Obviously, bowling doesn’t get the same amount of attention that other sports do, but Francis explains why bowling is not only fun but also a lot more than meets the eye.
“There’s a lot more to it than just knocking some pins down. Anyone can do it. You don’t have to be in the best shape or anything like that. You don’t have to be insanely athletic or anything. If you just have a passion for it or a will to get better, you can and anyone can bowl, really. It’s really fun I think,” Francis said.
What Francis finds fun about bowling is that it differs from other sports as far as practice, technique, and performance.
“Other sports, you can shoot ten for ten on free throws. If you’re at that level, you can do it without even trying, but in bowling, there are certain conditions like every time you bowl, it’s different. It’s never the same even after every shot, so if you’re not really on top of it, things can change your next shot. So, if you’re not really focused and really toned in, then your whole day can go completely wrong. I really like how you have to really perfect it for it to be right ” Francis said.
With six straight league titles, the bowling program has been doing well but could face some hardships next year if there aren’t enough participants.
“I hope the success continues, and I hope the team does well, but if we don’t get some more participants and people who want to do good, then we’re not going to do good,” Francis stated.
Francis and the Knights will head to the regional competition later this week to compete individually and as a team. If the success continues at regionals, the Knights and Francis could compete at states.
“I just hope the team and everyone who has made it does well and maybe we can get a state championship for the school or something like that. It would be pretty cool,” Francis stated