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Four JBLM bowlers invited to Army trials

Staff Sgt. Christopher Heron, left, Staff Sgt. Chris Arterburn, middle, and Col. Elizabeth Delbridge-Keogh, talk about the upcoming Armed Forces Bowling Championship before a league night at Bowl Arena Lanes on Lewis Main March 16. JBLM PAO photo

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Four bowlers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord are going to the All-Army bowling trial camp April 10 to 13 in Fort Lee, Va., to earn spots on the Army Team for the 2018 Armed Forces Bowling Championships April 14 to 17: Staff Sgt. Christopher Heron, Staff Sgt. Chris Arterburn, Col. Elizabeth Delbridge-Keogh and Master Sgt. Robert Robinson.

Arterburn, of the 46th Aviation Support Battalion, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, said he has likely spent more time at the bowling alley than at home since he was eight years old growing up in Olympia.

By age 13, Arterburn was traveling up to the greater Seattle area for junior tournaments. Bowling became an intermittent activity after he joined the Army in 2010 at age 21. During the last eight years, he tried to form a packet for the All-Army team trials for the Armed Forces Bowling Championships, but work priorities got in the way.

“Field experiences, school, deployments — they all seemed to line up in the first four months of the year,” Arterburn said.

This year he saw his chance. With the help of Staff Sgt. Christopher Heron, of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Brigade, Arterburn was able to submit his packet and subsequently earn his invite to the All-Army bowling trial camp April 10 to 13 in Fort Lee, Va.

The top four males and females will represent the Army in the Armed Forces Bowling Championship April 14 to 17.

“I got the text earlier this week while I was in the field, and it made my whole field experience a lot better,” Arterburn said.

He joins three other JBLM bowlers who received invitations to try out for the All-Army team: Delbridge-Keogh and Robinson, both of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command, as well as Heron.

Heron competed last year as the Army men finished third out of the four teams. Navy won in the men’s championship, followed by Air Force and Marine Corps in fourth.

He started bowling for fun with family and friends at age 15, but stopped for about 10 years after joining the Army, picking it up again in 2008. Last year was Heron’s first appearance at the Armed Forces Bowling Championships.

He said he was nervous at first, not because of the competition, but because of the camaraderie established by regulars who attend the tournament year after year.

“They have these bonds and friendships, and I’m the new guy,” Heron said. “But it actually wasn’t hard to fit in. I knew two or three of them (beforehand). The nerves went away really fast.”

Delbridge-Keogh agreed with that sentiment. She has participated in the All-Army trial camp in 2015 and 2017, just missing out on making the Army team; although she was added to the Marine Corps’ team in 2017.

She said it can be helpful to see familiar faces not only from military tournaments every year, but in recreational leagues like the Friday Night Moonlighters league at Bowl Arena Lanes on Lewis Main.

“Yes it’s a competition, and we’re struggling to be in the top four at the end of the day, but it’s a camaraderie,” Delbridge-Keogh said. “It’s really nice to have the same friends and family; I consider it family there every year.”

The trials scheduled for April 10-13 will require each bowler to throw a total of 36 games over two days. After that, the teams are formed, and the eight total bowlers for each service team compete in singles, doubles, mixed doubles and an overall team event.

“Bowling is really 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical,” Delbridge-Keogh said. “For All-Army, it can be a little bit more than 10 percent physical. It’s hard to throw 36 games and then go right into another tournament.”

Robinson said with a laugh that he should have been doing push-ups and becoming familiar with energy drinks going into the trial’s workload. With 30 years of bowling experience under his belt, he’s looking forward to his first trip to the All-Army trial camp and, hopefully, his first run in the Armed Forces Bowling Championships.

“To go to the trials is a big deal, but to be selected to represent the Army and play against (the other service teams) would be doggone nice,” Robinson said.

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