One of the most unlikely feats in sports is converting the 7-10 split in bowling.
Golden Valley senior Emma Shaner was unsure of her odds on Feb. 18 at Santa Clarita Lanes during a Juniors game, when she drew the infamous split. Shaner released a throw aiming for the 10 pin and turned around to ignore her would-be nine points only to see cheers all around.
“I just threw it at my 10 pin and assumed I had no chance,” Shaner said. “I was thinking, OK, whatever, I got the 10, but when I turned around to bowl my next frame, I heard everyone cheering. It was just really shocking. I was really proud of myself; a lot of people can’t say they’ve done that.”
Most bowlers will opt for power and send a ball about 20 mph for the shot with a 0.7% success rate. The Junior bowler hit the 7-10 split with about half as much force. Shaner believes she’s attempted to convert nearly three hundred 7-10 splits but hit her first when it mattered most.
It was quite the day for Shaner, as the conversion helped her team win the game and only made her birthday celebration better.
The Junior bowler was recognized on Saturday for the accomplishment, when she received a county award, patch and, most importantly for her, bragging rights.
Shaner is committed to bowl collegiately at Columbia College in Missouri. She has been playing the sport competitively for about eight years, earning her spot on the Cougar bowling team, as well as some scholarship money along the way.
“People find it kind of weird when I say I bowl, they don’t think it’s a sport,” Shaner said. “I started doing it for fun, then I found friends doing it. Time went on and I realized I can be good at this. It’s a really good opportunity for kids that no one really knows about. You can win a lot of scholarship money.”
Shaner has accrued almost $10,000 in scholarship money through SMART, a Pell Grant match program.
Junior bowlers are ineligible to receive funds of any sort, but through SMART, bowlers like Shaner can receive scholarship funds that become usable when the junior reaches college.
“Winning all these tournaments and placing, has wanted to help the younger bowlers and show them the opportunities they have,” Shaner said. “I’m trying to show them that opportunity and that they can do it. Everyone can do it, you can be anyone and bowl and be good at the sport. I want to inspire kids and for them to know they can do it.”
Shaner will begin collegiate bowling next year, a fact that seemed unlikely when she first started bowling competitively. When she was 10 years old, Shaner didn’t like the league she played in, leading her to quit and go play basketball.
“After basketball, I thought I didn’t give bowling enough of a chance,” Shaner said. “I joined a different league and once I realized I joined the right league, I realized it’s a team sport, everyone helps each other out. It was more people talking to you and I ended up making a family. They explain things to you and help you. You’re all on one team.”
The pandemic also hindered Shaner’s bowling future. Bowling alleys weren’t open consistently, leading her to throw bowling balls in her backyard.
“I would throw my bowling balls in the backyard. I went to Vegas for one, week-long tournament. There wasn’t too much bowling but I took every chance I could get.”
Whenever she did find a competition or tournament, the junior bowler shined. Shaner has placed in five categories in each of the five years she has competed in the city tournament. She is a lady’s bowling tournament champion, has accolades in the Junior Bowling League, all on top of now hitting the 7-10 split.
Coach Rick Landers has coached Shaner over the years and helped elevate her game to a soon-to-be collegiate bowler level.
“Coach Landers really started teaching me things and I got better,” Shaner said. “Once I got to a certain point, I started entering tournaments. In my first tournament ever, there were four categories and I placed first in three. I then thought I could actually be good at this. I knew I wanted to do this because it was fun and competitive. It made me want to try harder and play more.”
Shaner also was quick to thank her mom Renee Shaner and Santa Clarita Lanes.
“My parents were supportive as they saw me progress,” Shaner said. “They wanted to come and watch me, and wanted to hear about everything I was doing. They’ve been really supportive about it… Santa Clarita Lanes for helping me with everything they’ve helped me with. They’ve always been supportive and helped me a bunch. I’ve gained a lot of great friends from there.”
Shaner has plenty of bowling left in Santa Clarita but will ship off to Missouri in the summer. She has big aspirations for her college bowling career and what may come after.
“For now, I’m just getting ready for college,” Shaner said. “I’ll be bowling in the offseason. Then depending on how college goes, I might try to go pro. That’s the dream for bowling. Essentially, my plan was to get into college through bowling, see how it goes and after I’m done, decide if I want to go for this. I think there’s a pretty big possibility I’ll go for it just to see what happens.”