Bayt works to improve his status
Westerville's Zeke Bayt has traveled the country competing against some of the top bowlers at the amateur and professional levels.
He's hoping his continued dedication and hard work in the sport will someday lead him to professional status.
"The goal is to bowl with the best every single week," he said.
"Anyone can become a professional. It's just all about who can compete. You don't just want to go out on the professional tour and keep finishing dead last like some guys do. When I turn professional, it's going to be when I feel I can be the best there is out there. Right now, I just don't have the experience. That's the key to bowling."
Bayt, 20, is a 2010 graduate of Westerville Central High School, where he competed on the bowling team for four seasons.
"When I was in high school, I got into competitive bowling on the side," he said. "It was cool that our high school team was competitive. We were a pretty good high school team the four years I was there, but I really buckled down and focused a couple years afterwards."
Bayt called winning the regular singles title in the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships earlier this summer the biggest accomplishment of his career.
He posted a 795 series on June 16 to overtake John Szczerbinski, who led the tournament for nearly two months with a 789. Szczerbinski is a Team USA member from North Tonawanda, N.Y.
Bayt's high series included games of 288, 268 and 239. The tournament began in March at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., and concluded July 7.
Bayt earned about $8,000, the biggest payday of his career.
"To win something as big as this means a lot," he said. "It is great to have a big win under my belt and have that experience behind me."
Bayt credits the support of Harvey Johnson of Las Vegas as another key to his success.
Johnson, a 1980 graduate of Ohio State, is Bayt's lone sponsor.
"It's very enjoyable to see someone be successful," said Johnson, who competed on the Ohio State bowling team for three seasons and attended Franklin Heights. "Whether you're sponsoring him or not, you have the love of the game and you like to see people get those accolades."
Following graduation from Central, Bayt bowled less than a season at the University of Pikeville in Kentucky before leaving school and focusing his attention on tournaments nationwide.
"It made me love bowling more," he said of his college experience. "It made me passionate about bowling. My passion for bowling carried over from there afterwards."
Bayt competed in the qualifying rounds of the U.S. Open on July 22-24 at various locations around Columbus, finishing 142nd of 260 bowlers with a 189.3 average.
The finals for the tournament, which featured the sport's top professionals and amateurs, were held July 27.
"It was cool (bowling in Columbus)," said Bayt, who was competing in his first U.S. Open. "I wish I could have done better. I hope to do that again and do a lot better next time."
Bayt earned his 10th sanctioned 300 game July 18 while competing in the USA Las Vegas Team Championship at the Gold Coast Bowling Center. He estimates he has bowled about 30 perfect games in his career.
Bayt competed in three leagues in Columbus during the 2012-13 season and had a composite average of 224 in 310 games.
"There's no real way to describe bowling," he said. "It's something that you have to go do to see how hard it is. It's an extremely hard, mental and physical grind when you're bowling. It's something I can't explain and that's why I love it because you can never figure bowling out."