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Haverhill candlepin bowler ties world record

By Jenna Duncan
Globe Correspondent / May 19, 2011

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Chris Sargent has been a professional candlepin bowler for 20 years, and his average score hovers around 125 points.

But on one string Friday night, the Haverhill resident nearly doubled his average score, and his 245 tied the world record for a single-string score.

“If you hit over 200 in candlepin, that’s really big,’’ said Sargent, a Groveland police officer,who was playing at Metro Bowl in Peabody.

Said teammate Joe Tavernese: “That string Friday night was unbelievable. I was just in awe. To watch something like that was unbelievable.’’

Candlepin, a New England tradition, uses smaller pins and smaller balls than traditional bowling, making the game lower-scoring and more difficult. Further complicating the game, once pins are knocked down they are not cleared away.

Sargent is part of the Friday Night Pro League. When he tied the record, it was the second-to-last week of the season. His team is in first place, but the second-place team was only a few points behind for the entire season, so it was a big night.

His high-scoring string came when his team was down 52 points after two games, said Tavernese. Sargent started the round with a spare and went on to throw six consecutive strikes.

“He throws strikes together like no one I’ve never known,’’ said Tavernese, who has been the manager of Metro Bowl for 42 years.

People began to gather around the lane as his score kept growing, Tavernese said, and at the end of the game everyone was in awe.

His score ties that of Ralph Semb, president of the International Candlepin Bowling Association.

It is the second candlepin bowling world record set by Sargent, who holds the highest score for three strings in a five-game match, 530 points.

Jenna Duncan can be reached at jduncan@globe.com.