Kody Birmes

Hibbing’s Kody Birmes became the youngest bowler in Hibbing to roll a 300 game and an 800 series during the Saturday morning Junior League on Feb. 20.

HIBBING — Ever since Kody Birmes started bowling, his goal was to bowl a 700 series.

Birmes, who started bowling in 2010, and is 15-years-old right now, is still looking for that 700, but he’s not complaining.

Birmes shot right over that 700-mark on Saturday, eclipsing it by four pins.

Birmes, while competing in the Saturday morning Junior League at the Hibbing Bowling Center, rolled games of 245, 258 and a perfect 300 for an 803 series.

Birmes is the youngest Hibbing bowler to bowl a 300, let alone rolling an 800 series.

Perfect games run in the Birmes’ family.

His father, Jim, has 20 300 games, including two this season. His mother, Teresa, has one. She’s the only female to have a perfect game in Hibbing.

Birmes, who averages a 199, had a high game of 255 (in 2020) and previous high series of 607, said he felt good during his first-game.

“I thought I was going to bowl well, but not as well as I did,” Birmes said. “I threw some balls high a couple of times, but the ball was coming back nice. I was making sure I followed through, and that I threw it over the same mark every time.”

In game two, Birmes didn’t regress. He kept up his consistent play.

“I didn’t think I was going to bowl as good, but I was hoping to hit a 700 series,” Birmes said. “I never had one of those, so that made me nervous. It gets in my head, but I had to keep it going.”

Birmes finished with that 258, which gave him a two-game total of 503. All he needed was a 197, which is just under his average, in game three to achieve his goal.

Birmes started game three with five-straight strikes.

Jim, having had some experience with that, knew what his son was going through.

“Five in a row, it does get any tougher for the first time when you get that far,” Jim said. “He wanted that 700, and he knew once he was at 197 he had that. He came up to me and said, ‘I got my 700.’

“I told him, ‘Take your time and get way past 700.’ All of a sudden, there it was.”

Kody started thinking more than 700. He was thinking 300.

“That’s when I started getting a little nervous, but I wasn’t too nervous,” Kody said. “I started thinking, ‘I can’t mess this up.’”

Birmes would add four more strikes, making it nine in a row. As he kept striking, his lane started drawing more and more attention from all of the bowlers on hand.

“I was excited, but everyone left in the bowling alley started watching me, and four people took out their phones and started videotaping me,” Kody said. “I was nervous when I got into the 10th frame.

“I couldn’t look at anyone video recording me. I was shaking more than I already was.”

Birmes overcame that nervousness, but his first ball in the 10th frame was a little flat. It came back just enough to hit the pocket.

“I didn’t even feel it coming out of my hand,” Birmes said. “I felt lucky. I thought I was going to leave the 10 pin, and I’m not good at those shots.”

On shot No. 2, Birmes delivered his 11th-straight strike. He was one away from that perfect game.

How nervous was Kody after that?

“He couldn’t even hold a pencil in his hand,” Jim said.

As he toed the lane markers, Kody remembered something that his mentor, Kevin VonderHaar, told him.

“He taught me to stay calm and don’t rush and pull the ball over,” Kody said. “Kevin has been helping me out since I started bowling. He’s always there when I bowl. He keeps telling me ways to get better.”

When Birmes let his final shot go, he thought his bid for 300 was over.

“I missed my mark, so I thought I was going to leave the seven pin,” Kody said. “Luckily, it knocked all of the pins over.”

Chaos ensued.

“Kevin got on his phone, so everybody in Hibbing knew about it before I could say anything,” Jim said. “I was a nervous wreck. I was excited and nervous at the same time.

“I wanted him to get it. He blew 700 right out of the water. It was awesome.”

It was a night Kody won’t forget.

“I was excited,” Kody said. “Kevin and my dad came up to me and gave me high-fives. Everyone was excited for me. I skipped right over 700 and went straight to 800. Now, I want to get a 700, but I also want to get a higher score than I have.

“It’s going to be hard to do.”


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