PROSPECT — Prospect bowler Vincent Miller didn’t start out February’s 54th New Haven County Tournament the way he had envisioned. But the key to victory in any athletic pursuit is about overcoming adversity without losing focus.
Miller was up but Joe Michaud, his partner for team play, was nowhere in sight. Michaud was a no-show due to a personal reason and Miller was in jeopardy of being disqualified.
“The New Haven County Tournament is a singles, doubles and team competition,” Miller said. “If you can’t compete in all the events you are disqualified. I was pretty stressed out and left the first two frames open.”
Fortunately for Miller he had a few people in his corner. Tournament director Rich Valenti and Chad Allison, longtime friend and proprietor of Wolcott Lanes, went out and found a partner for the worried bowler.
“Those guys, along with my friend of 30 years, Brian Guyette, helped me to calm down,” Miller recalled. “They brought over my new partner, Andy Villegas, and I was able to concentrate on my game.”
That may have been a bit of an understatement because what happened next is what separates champions from the rest of the field. Miller dialed it up a notch and went on to throw eight strikes in a row to record a robust score of 224.
With his nerves in check Miller took his game to the next level, throwing 11 of 12 strikes in game two for a 278. His third game got him a 266 score and a three-game set of 768. That was enough to earn the New Haven County championship for the first time in the 25 years he’s been competing in the circuit.
“I have been bowling for 32 years and have entered the New Haven County Tournament 25 times and never won,” Miller said. “I bowl at Colony Lanes in Wallingford in the Tuesday night league and have two 300 games under my belt, but this is by far the most exciting thing that’s happened in my career.”
Miller officially claimed his championship at the association’s banquet last month.
Miller always gets a sendoff of support from his 8-year-old daughter Melissa, who kisses her dad and says, “Bowl a good game, daddy.”
Miller’s wife Kim has been supportive of her husband bowling endeavors and even accompanied him to the national competition.
“I have been going to the nationals for 24 years,” Miller said. “It’s quite an event going up against the best in the country. It’s been held in Texas, Kansas, Reno, Baton Rouge and Las Vegas, among a few other places. I’ve been averaging around 210-220 the last 10 years and going to the nationals is very humbling.”
Miller and his partner, Villegas, finished out the New Haven County Tournament with a sixth-place showing in the doubles event and wound up in third for the team event.