Rolling on a razor’s edge

Mark Vetter broke the world record for between-the-legs bowling Tuesday at Eagle's Back Bowl. Vetter rolled a 280, eclipsing the former world record of 224.
Eleanor Nesbit | |

EAGLE – The person who said the pursuit of a thing is as good as the thing itself, couldn’t be more wrong if he’d entered a poodle in a tractor pull.

Still …

Mark Vetter probably had more fun Friday night than you did.

Vetter rolled 33 games at Eagle’s Back Bowl trying to break the Guinness world record for bowling between your legs. He was agonizingly close.

[iframe src=”//” width=”640″ height=”360″ style=”border: 0px;”]

Support Local Journalism

It’s right and proper that the Guinness World Record and Guinness beer people are the same family, especially when they’re keeping track of world records for things like bowling between your legs.

He would have made it if the 10 pin hadn’t been an agent of Satan. He hit it with everything but a lawsuit, and yet it stood.

“You need to do it perfectly, but sometimes you also need a little luck,” Vetter said when, after more than three hours, fatigue finally forced him try another day.

Math matters

Vetter is good at math, so if it became statistically impossible for him to break the record, he started a new game.

The first game started with a few strikes and was a great warmup.

The second opened with a couple strikes and then a 7-10 split.

The third game he hit 217 and ended with an open frame, and a 216 in his eighth. In both games the 10 pin stubbornly refused to obey the laws of gravity and physics.

And then there it was in the 22nd game. He started strike-spare-strike-spare-strike and something in the atmosphere changed. Possibilities began to be possible. And then that physics-ignoring 10 pin refused to fall in the eighth frame. He hit a strike in the ninth frame and in the 10th … dammit. That 10 pin again.

If that obstiate 10 pin had fallen in any of those games, he’d have gotten a third ball in the 10th frame and the record would have been his.

Pursuing excellence

It’s like any other pursuit of excellence. You practice relentlessly for a long time, and take your shot.

“I’ve had a couple heads turn when I’m practicing,” Vetter said.

Vetter lives in Avon, he’s originally from St. Louis and has been bowling since he was tall enough to see over the ball.

One day when he was bored he started bowling with his left hand, and sometimes through his legs – while drinking the occasional adult carbonated beverage … that’s beer for those of you who don’t appreciate the finer things in life. He tried the between-the-legs thing for a while and threw a 211 one day messing around.

He was cruising through some bowling videos on Youtube and found a guy bowling between his legs, and began to wonder if there was an upper limit for this sort of thing.

There was, and it’s 224 set on Jan. 25, 2013 by Frederick G. Magliacane at Bellair Lanes, in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Vetter rolled a 211 with a beer in his non-dominant hand, so he decided, “Why not?”

“Never underestimate the motivational power of beer,” he said.

Vetter hit a 226 in practice a few days ago, so he knows he can.

The rules are not complicated.

“Bowl every single ball between the legs and don’t bowl any other way,” Vetter said.

He starts like a normal bowler, striding toward the line. On his last step he swings his right arm around and fires the ball between his legs in a huge, graceful arc. The ball swings right to left, or left to right, across the lane like a politician chasing votes in an election year – and it is an election year.

His mom and dad drove out from St. Louis to watch. They were more nervous than he was. After about 30 games, his mother, Janet, smiled proudly as she pointed out that her youngest son is “strong willed.”

That’s a good thing, and like everyone who pursues excellence Vetter says he’ll try again.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism