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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baldwin bowler aims at second state title

By Stanley Lee
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Baldwin's Corey Gushikuma has a modest 195 average, mostly at Maui Bowling Center in Wailuku, but he rolled a 300 at Schofield last year.

CHRISTIE WILSON | The Honolulu Advertiser

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• Four girls have won more than one state bowling title, but Kalani’s Dara Ajimine was the only one to win three straight from 2006 to 2008, earning her a spot in Sports Illustrated’s Faces in the Crowd feature. She has since graduated

• St. Andrew’s Priory alumna Suzana Signaigo is a sophomore on the Wichita State women’s team. The program has won nine men’s and nine women’s national titles. Seventy bowlers tried out for the program this year.

• Kalani is the defending girls state champion and Pearl City is the defending boys state champion. An O'ahu Interscholastic Association school has won every girls state championship since 2000.

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Having chased down one elusive goal, Baldwin High School senior Corey Gushikuma is going after another rare feat.

His dad, Scot, used to joke that when he died, his son could have his ring from bowling a perfect 300 game.

Gushikuma replied that he could earn his own ring someday.

That 300 game finally came in April of last year during a club tournament, and Gushikuma earned a ring from the U.S. Bowling Congress for the rare accomplishment among youth bowlers.

Now the defending state boys bowling champion is going after a second straight state title. Since the first state tournament in 1974, only one bowler has won two state titles, but those championships didn't occur in successive years (1978 and 1980). This year's state championship is Oct. 29 and 30 at Schofield Bowling Center.

"I think I'm on top of my game," Gushikuma said. "I'm working my way to getting better then what I was last year ... improving my game. Now I know everyone is after me."

Six days a week, Gushikuma's determination is on display at Maui Bowling Center, a nondescript, 10-lane facility that is the oldest bowling alley in the state. It's that determination to improve that fuels the temperamental aspect of his game. He'll get excited, emotional or mad, and his mind locks into the pins staring down on him.

"When I get really into game, my mind gets set into the game," Gushikuma said. "I have a lot of excitement when I bowl. I make every shot that I take like there's no tomorrow.

"The more I get into the game, the more the game goes by and the more focused I get."

Baldwin coach Rodney Carillo said like all good athletes, Gushikuma can get upset when he makes a bad shot.

"He's learned to control that; it doesn't really upset him," Carillo said. "He's more dedicated and (focused) because he knows it's his last year."

With competition sparse on Maui, Gushikuma competes against himself and has been challenged by his teammates. The Bears clinched the Maui Interscholastic League title last week.

"Competing against myself, it's the only person I need to beat," said Gushikuma, who wants to bowl at Wichita State University in Kansas next year. "I try to keep that in mind."

Carillo said motivation is a challenge because of the competition. Gushikuma has a modest 195 average, and his score would be higher if he was bowling in a slicker facility like Schofield.

"I have them challenge themselves," Carillo said. "There's a few boys on the team who pushed him this year. If they didn't, I don't know how he would be."

The team aspect goes a bit further. Gushikuma, along with co-captain Aaron Yoshizu, meet with Carillo to discuss what the team needs to work on and which bowlers to put into the lineup.

"He's trying to be more focused, having the team do better," Carillo said. "When he won (states) last year, he had mentioned after he found out he had won, he said, 'I wish we could do better as a team.' "

Between now and states, Gushikuma said the biggest thing he needs to work on is his mental game. He'll be at Maui Bowling Center, six days a week, sharpening his focus. He's thankful that manager Alvin Kushiyama lets him bowl there nearly every day, and for Daniel Maglangit Jr. at Strike'em Pro Shop.

Schofield Bowling Center might be the place where the unimaginable becomes a reality.

Gushikuma nailed his 300 game there.