By Randy Kindred
After bowling a 158 in his first game Saturday, Todd Peddycoart was feeling a bit overheated. He decided to take a short walk prior to his second game in the Special Olympics Illinois State Bowling Tournament.
Peddycoart strolled to a lobby area at Peoria’s Landmark Lanes, where the temperature was cooler than inside the bowling center.
“I needed to get a little fresh air,” he said.
Feeling rejuvenated, the 27-year-old from Monticello returned and began to burn up lanes 41 and 42. He rolled nine strikes to start the second game, attracting a growing number of spectators hoping to witness a perfect game.
“I appreciate everybody who gathered around and actually watched,” Peddycoart said later. “I could hear it, but I wasn’t letting it get to my head.”
Needing three strikes in the 10th frame to complete his first 300 game, Peddycoart got a split on his first ball. It led to an open frame and a score of 265.
“That was the closest I’ve ever gotten to a 300,” he said. “I was just going out there and rolling the ball and doing what I came here to do … roll the ball and it doesn’t matter if I win or lose.”
Prior to Saturday, the most strikes Peddycoart had strung together to start a game was seven.
“I was trying to keep him calm,” said his coach, Darlene Baker. “Other people started saying, 'Has he ever had a 300?’ He could hear that. He’ll do it one of these days.
“He’s a good guy. He works a lot (at McDonald’s in Monticello) and he likes bowling and basketball. He wants to do well. He’s harder on himself than anybody is. But he’s also very supportive of other athletes. He likes to make friends.”
Among those he has befriended is Jordan Derossett, a 20-year-old from Belleville who was bowling in the same division and on the same lanes as Peddycoart.
Derossett earned the gold medal with a 647 series that included games of 207, 247 and 193. Peddycoart rolled a 200 in his third game to finish with a 623 series and the silver medal.
“I’m happy with second place,” Peddycoart said. “Jordan is a really good bowler. It was a fun time bowling with him.”
Peddycoart wore his USA Games bowling shirt. He represented Team Illinois at the USA Games in June at Orlando, Florida.
Derossett was aware of that and was eager to compete with Peddycoart.
“This is my first time actually taking on someone who is at a national level,” Derossett said. “I’m glad I could do it. Bowling has been my sport since I was a kid. I started when I was like eight. My grandmother got me into it. She really got me into what I’m meant to be.”
Derossett participates in a variety of Special Olympics Illinois sports and in mid-June read the Special Olympics oath during Opening Ceremony for the 2022 Summer Games in Normal.
Still, he calls bowling “my passion.”
“I like (Peddycoart). He’s great,” Derossett said. “It’s good competition and that’s something that really inspires me. I love bowling with people who are at his level or higher. It gets me ready for things to come.”
Derossett is hopeful of bowling in the USA Games someday. For now, he can celebrate his state gold medal.
A lot of medals were handed out on a day more than 250 Special Olympic athletes competed. The event included roughly 150 coaches and 175 volunteers as well. Landmark Lanes, the tournament host since 1989, also was filled with family, friends and well-wishers.