Striking Perfection: Junior bowlers achieve 300 games in unique fashion

By Matt Stevens
January 26, 2024

In the world of sports, the pursuit of perfection is often an elusive dream. However, late last year, two talented junior bowlers from Victoria, William Zaccaria and Trent McDougall, defied the odds and rolled their way to perfect 300 games in the same team event at a popular Victorian tournament.

This accomplishment not only showcases the skill of these up-and-coming bowlers but also highlights how bowling is one of the few sports where perfection can truly be attained.

William Zaccaria, a 14-year-old hailing from Victoria, has been passionate about bowling since the tender age of seven. In 2023, this young bowler made significant strides in his development, ticking off several goals from his bucket list. A regular league bowler at Zone Bowling Watergardens, William received his first selection into the under-18 National Training Squad (NTS18) in 2023 and performed admirably, securing three top-ten finishes in nationally ranked events. However, the highlight of his year came in September when he achieved the perfect game of 300 for the first time in his young career.

What’s even more astounding is that he managed to repeat this feat two more times within just three months. William shared his thoughts on this incredible achievement, saying, “When leading up to the tenth frame, I was more relaxed than I thought I would be, but as soon as the tenth frame came around, a wave of nerves hit! Fortunately, I stayed composed on the outside and continued to focus on the process, trying to eliminate distractions, and struck on the last three shots. To do this in front of family and friends and to see everyone so excited for me added even more to how special this was.”

His highest game before achieving his first perfect 300 was a 276 in 2022. However, after breaking the barrier in 2023, William found himself in numerous opportunities to get closer to perfection, thanks to countless hours of practice on the lanes, where he honed his accuracy and lane play.

As the year progressed, William was eager to prove that his first 300 was no fluke.

He captured his second 300 game during league in late November at Zone Bowling Watergardens. William then entered the 2023 Dunn Shield, a prestigious team event in Victoria, where he provided one half of the remarkable feat of not one but two 300 games in the same game.

Reflecting on the experience, William explained, “Competing in a team environment is completely different. There is more excitement and communication compared to a singles tournament. Being able to achieve a 300 game alongside Trent, someone that I respect enormously, who is a great mate and a fellow NTS 18 member, was an absolute honour.”

Trent McDougall, the other bowler during that remarkable game, turned 18 years old in 2023 and had an equally impressive year.

Named the Junior Rankings winner in 2022, Trent continued his strong performance in 2023, earning a debut for Australia at the Asian Junior Championships in Singapore.

In contrast to William, who was just beginning his junior career, Trent was closing the chapter on his junior career in 2023. Nonetheless, a perfect 300 game had eluded him until December 10, 2023, at Dunn Shield.

Trent described the moment he realised he had achieved perfection: “To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot going through my brain during the tenth frame. I’m a firm believer in ‘staying in the zone’ and what it can do for someone in a sporting context. Luckily for me, it just so happened that I managed to get into it at the same time as Will!”

Trent’s journey to his first accredited 300 game was marked by dedication. He shared, “Getting the 300 done in an accredited event felt like a big relief more than anything. I knew I was capable of a perfect game; it was just a matter of when. It might’ve taken me a while to get my first sanctioned 300 because I bowled on sport conditions more often than not during my later junior years.”

Both bowlers credit their families and teams for their success. William began bowling at the age of 7 and expressed his gratitude, saying, “My parents have supported me day in and day out, taking my brother and me to training 3-4 times a week. We also travel a lot both in Victoria and around the country several times a year. Whether it is long road trips or flying to interstate tournaments, they take their precious time off work to come support us both. Their support and encouragement are unbelievable and definitely motivate me to become a better bowler.”

Trent, who comes from a bowling family, mentioned, “My older brother Lachlan took the original interest in bowling when he was around 5, and like any younger brother, obviously I had to try and beat him, and from then on out, I kept on bowling and became attached to the sport like it was a part of who I was. After my brother and I started to take bowling more seriously, my dad started to bowl as well and became a TBA accredited coach.”

As Trent’s junior career comes to a close, another chapter is set to begin as he embarks on his youth bowling career in 2024. He expressed his goals, stating, “Making the NTS 21 would definitely make the start of 2024 an amazing one. To be recognised as one of the best youth athletes in the country would be a tremendous honour, and it’s something I’ve been working hard every day to be a part of.”

With the inaugural NTS 18 and NTS 21 Trials commencing at the AGL National High Performance Center this weekend on the Sunshine Coast, Trent will be absent due to an approved exemption. Nevertheless, he is excited to see how the trials go and is looking forward to another busy year on the lanes in 2024.

Trent added, “Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the trials this year, but I really like the format and the challenge that comes with the oil patterns too. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the NTS. As for my goals in 2024, I’m currently aiming for a top 5 finish in the youth rankings as a results-based goal, with all my other goals focused on becoming a better bowler each day and doing what I can to improve. I’ve already made significant improvements over the summer, and I can’t wait to see what I can achieve during the 2024 season.”

For William, this weekend marks the beginning of a big year filled with goals and more items to cross off his bucket list. He shared his aspirations, stating, “My goals for the trials are to stay ahead of the field in terms of scoring pace and give it my all, knowing that the competition will be fierce. Looking ahead to 2024, my goals include representing my state once again at President’s Shield and, hopefully, making the Australian team competing in Malaysia in June. It would be an honour to bowl in the green and gold alongside the other incredible under-18 NTS juniors.”

As they continue to strive for excellence, the inspiring story of William Zaccaria and Trent McDougall serves as a reminder that perfection is attainable, and the pursuit of excellence knows no age. Australia’s junior bowling scene is jam-packed of exceptional talents, and the future in the sport looks bright.

Tenpin Bowling Australia wishes to congratulate William and Trent on this incredibly unique achievement and wishes them luck for their bowling pursuits in 2024.

Click below to see the vision of William’s first 300 game in September and both boys achieving the perfect game during the Dunn Shield in the same team game!