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USC student finds perfect stage for perfection

Spring Valley graduate rolls a 300 as the youngest bowler at a national event

When Columbia’s Philipp Hudak arrived at the Albuquerque Convention Center on June 23, he wasn’t thinking about being perfect; he was simply thinking about going through his normal routine.

And after 12 of those normal routines, the 23-year-old South Carolina student was ... perfect.

Hudak, who was the youngest player at the 2008 United States Bowling Congress Open Championships held in Albuquerque, N.M., bowled 12 strikes in a row for a perfect score of 300 — the first time he has done so on the national stage.

“I have a personal routine that I try to go through for every single ball, no matter what the situation is,” Hudak said of his rhythm during the 300. “I didn’t want to change anything.”

About halfway through the game, Hudak had rolled nothing but strikes, and the possibility of a perfect game set in.

“It usually sets in about the seventh or eight frame,” Hudak said. “I wasn’t really thinking about it in the first couple of frames, but when it got late in the game, I thought to myself, ‘oh man, I have a chance to do something special.’ ”

Hudak, who was born in Columbia and graduated from Spring Valley High, came into the 10th frame with a score of 270. After two consecutive strikes to open the 10th, the USC senior knocked down all 10 pins on his last roll — and the emotions set in.

“When I got that last one, I felt a huge sigh of relief,” he said. “I was full of excitement and emotion. All the guys that bowl with me were there; they’re real good guys and I’ve known them for a long time, they were real happy for me as well.”

Hudak was introduced to bowling at the age of 8, by his father, Brian. He bowled his first 300 at the age of 17, but his performance in Albuquerque was the first time he recorded a perfect score in a national tournament, which he was participating in for only the second time.

Hudak went to the 2008 USBC Open Championships as the youngest member of Damage 1, a team consisting of Columbia bowlers. In last year’s Open Championships, Hudak bowled a three-round score of 569. This year, Hudak improved on that mark with a total of 657, thanks to his perfect second game.

Hudak’s family wasn’t able to join him in Albuquerque, but they were given constant updates. Hudak was text messaging his brother, Paul, throughout the 300 game. Paul, a recent Spring Valley graduate, also was watching the game, via the Internet, with his parents.

The USBC Open Championships features top bowlers from around the nation, mostly age 30 and above. Hudak didn’t finish in the top-10 of the national event but did make his presence felt, receiving a ring and a plaque for his game of 300.

Hudak, who will soon graduate from USC with a civil engineering degree, is hoping to receive more hardware in future Open Championships.

“They’ve been doing this tournament for about 40 years, and it’s a lot of fun” Hudak said. “It’s a real good experience. You meet a lot of people, make new friends, and I can’t wait to do it again next year.”