Perfect game lands Johnson in nation’s top 2
Josh Johnson bowled a perfect game that elevated him to second place nationally.
He completed the consecutive 12-strike feat during the 2018 United States Bowling Congress Open Championship in Syracuse, N.Y. May 24-25. It was his fifth appearance at the tournament, competing with professional and amateur bowlers. Kurt Pilon holds the top spot in the nation.
“There is a ton of strategy with the team and yourself to win or succeed in that tournament,” Johnson said Saturday.
After completing seven frames in the final game, the 26-year-old was confident a perfect score was possible.
“I told my brother, Matthew, that I’m going to shoot 300 for this game,” Johnson recalled.
Despite the pressure, he succeeded by throwing nine frames and rolling three more strikes in the early morning hours of May 25.
“Everybody stops and it’s all eyes on you,” Johnson said. “It made me nervous – so it’s not every day you shoot a 300 at this particular tournament.”
Matthew Johnson was along for the support. He videotaped the final frames that sealed the score as Johnson delivered a mean hook, causing the ball to move from the right to center, striking each pin.
“He told me after his eighth strike, ‘I will shoot a perfect game,’” Matthew said. “I’ve seen him bowl so many perfect games that I kind of knew he wouldn’t be that nervous, but we were all watching him. I kind of had my doubts, so I pulled out my camera just in case.”
The event was made even sweeter because Johnson was teamed with a 10-member group that included Walter Ray Williams, Jr., a USBC and Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame member. He invited Johnson to join the group.
“He was one of my idols,” the young bowler said. “I grew up watching him on TV – now we’re friends.”
Johnson plans to continue bowling with the team.
“This group is very educated about the tournament and they know how the event works,” he said. “They’re a great group of guys. They’re actually celebrities of the tournament and now I’m considered a celebrity for the tournament.”
Bowlers who complete a perfect game, experience wins and place high in the tourney are considered celebrities.
Although he has met the requirements to be a member of the Professional Bowling Association, Johnson said it would limit his ability to bowl in amateur tournaments.
“I really enjoy the atmosphere and the competition,” Johnson said.
Even when he doesn’t win, the bowler works toward consistency.
“I just bowl one frame at a time – that’s every bowler’s mindset,” Johnson said. “It’s a mental grind. Period. If you have a bad frame, you have to let it go and move on – learn from your mistakes and keep moving.”
He began bowling at age 5, joining his parents and extended family in the sport for fun.
In 2006, Johnson received the U.S. Bowling Congress’ Youth James Burroughs Award for a first place win in the Coaches Memorial Championship Tournament. He scored a total of 1,898 points in nine games.
During his high school career at West Nassau, Johnson placed fifth in state competition in 2008. He is a member of the Florida State United States Bowling Congress Youth Hall of Fame, qualifying in 2012, and the First Coast United States Bowling Conference Hall of Fame since 2009.
Matthew, 15, is a rising sophomore at WNHS. He also embraces the sport.
“He’s kind of following in my footsteps,” Johnson said.
He is grateful for his family’s enthusiasm about his participation in bowling. Parents Tony and Denise Johnson live in Callahan. Johnson also has a son Carson, who is nearly 2 years old.
“None of this would be possible without my family and friends’ support,” Johnson said. “I’ve made a lot of new friends, people I’ve idolized over the years and now we’re friends.”
Johnson works as a land surveyor. He bowls at least twice a week. He’s already excited about next year’s tournament, which will be held in Las Vegas.
He plans to keep bowling “until I have to kick it down the lane,” he said.