By BRETT MARSHALL
It would seem quite appropriate to call the bowling exploits of Eric and Taylor Larsen, and Jessica and Jarett Landgraf, as true family affairs.
And even 14-year-old Bubba Larson could make a claim that bowling has been all about family fun since he was introduced to the game seven years ago when he was only in the second grade.
But bowling has brought the five together as the Garden City contingent will be headed off to two different locations this weekend and in two weeks to compete in a pair of national bowling tournaments.
While Larson headed north on Thursday for the 2013 Junior Gold North Pointe Championships in Detroit, the Larsens and the Landgrafs will travel east to Columbus, Ohio, to compete from July 25 to 27 in the Bowling Proprietors Association of America International Family Tournament.
The younger Larson qualified for his national tournament with a first-place finish in April at Olathe, where he finished atop the standings in a six-game state qualifier.
"It's fun to do, and I just try to go out and enjoy it and not worry too much," said Larson, who will be competing in his first national tourney. "I was taught the power hook, so that's what I try to use the most. It will be an experience that I'm looking forward to."
Larson carries a 182 average in his league and has rolled a 289 for a personal best. He did that two years ago at the Pepsi State Tournament. Larson, who will be a freshman in the fall at Garden City High School, plans to compete on the Buffs' bowling team next winter.
In his Detroit tourney, Larson will bowl six games each at three different locations for an 18-game total. The field will be cut to the low 150 contestants, and it then becomes a double-elimination match play event.
It also seems normal for the Landgrafs to be performing at a high level, with Jarett serving as a member of the GCHS bowling team. Jessica has been bowling for a number of years as well, carrying a 158 average.
In their state tourney qualifier in May, Jessica rolled a 614 three-game series while Jarett had a 721 with a high game of 279. Jessica, who carries a 158 average, had her first 600-plus series in the tournament.
"This has been pretty fun, and I'm pretty competitive," said Jessica. "I try to beat him (Jarett) and that sometimes makes me bowl better."
Both the Landgrafs and Larsens had to go through three stages — local, regional and state — to earn their way to the national tourney.
"It's just fun, and we try to coach each other and help the other out," said Jarett.
The Larsens, who qualified as the state champion, were red-hot in Olathe as dad Eric rolled a 758 series while his son, Taylor, had a 633. Eric carries a 209 average in a local league while Taylor, who also excels in golf and basketball, has rolled a 707 series and a 277 high game.
"We've bowled several years, but we've been no good at the state until this year," Eric said. "It's a big deal for me because I'm doing this with my son. It's probably not as big a thing for Taylor."
Taylor, though, said he was looking forward to the national tournament, although he had not been bowling much since the state tournament.
"I've been doing mostly golf this summer, so I'll spend a little more time in the next week or so practicing some," Taylor said.
The tourney format calls for nine games to be rolled with the top eight teams advancing to match play.
"It will be a lot of fun, and we're just going to go and see how we do," Eric said.