OGDEN — Every year the Huntsman World Senior Games comes to St. George, bringing in thousands of athletes over the age of 50 from around the world.
Jamie Wehner, supervisor for Material Support at the Ogden Air Logistics Complex, joined the competition this year in the bowling event, having finally given in to his friends’ coercing. Wehner ended up coming home with two gold medals for his division, one in the singles scratch and the other in all-events scratch, and a silver medal in doubles handicap.
Wehner may be new to the Huntsman World Senor Games, but he is no amateur when it comes to bowling, having begun bowling at age five and joining his first league at age seven. He was inspired by his family, who were all bowlers. “I wanted to be just like them, so we spent a lot of time together as a family bowling because it was something we all had in common,” Wehner said.
He competed in several community leagues, going to local tournaments while growing up in Ogden before joining the professional league at age 22, becoming a member of the Professional Bowlers Association. His average continued to improve, and Wehner continued competing and winning, even getting inducted into the Northern Utah Bowling Hall of Fame for his performance in 2007.
However, he does have one regret looking back at his bowling career. “If I could have the time to do over again, I would keep it a game and make sure to spend more time with my family,” Wehner said. “I got it a little backwards in my 20s and let bowling keep me from doing things with my kids, so I tell young people now not to let it take over.”
One of the highlights of bowling now at age 55 Wehner says is playing with the younger crowd. “The young kids think they are pretty good, so it’s nice when us old gray guys can beat them, and show that we still carry a good average,” Wehner said.
What it really comes down to it though, Wehner is competing against himself. He now plays in two leagues a week, with another five to six games on his own, and if a tournaments is coming up, he puts in an extra practice, ranging about 10 to 12 hours a week practicing for a dozen tournaments a year.
At six-foot-eight, Wehner says the only time his height becomes an issue in the sport is when he trips. “At my height, when you fall, you think everyone is looking at you,” Wehner said, remembering one time he fell during the Jr. Pro Am the day before the PBA Tournament Proper, bulging two of his vertebrae in his back. “I had walked on some brand new carpet and got some film on my shoes, which caused me to stick on my approach, so I bowled the next day in a lot of pain.”
Injuries aren’t too common in bowling though, but Wehner says bowlers are carrying tons worth of weight for the entire length of several games, so it’s all about stamina and making sure not to injure muscles and joints from the repetitive movements in the sport.
The sport isn’t all about competing. Wehner has been a certified bowling instructor since 1979, and currently coaches for Northridge High School’s first bowling team. He also spends a few hours a week working as a bowling lanes mechanic.