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103-year-old woman still bowls twice a week

Meg Ruckman is still hitting strikes at over a century old. She celebrated her 103rd birthday at the bowling alley, where she feels most at home.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After more than a century a Knoxville woman still bowls twice a week, and she's pretty good too.

Meg Ruckman is a 103-year-old athlete who is still hitting strikes. She is a regular at Strike and Spare Bowling Alley on Western Avenue in Knoxville.

Wendy Cox, the bowling alley's general manager, knew she needed to throw Ruckman a surprise birthday party to celebrate the unbelievable milestone.

"It's a tradition now," Cox said. "I started at 100 because I thought it was an amazing feat at 100, to be doing what she's doing."

Ruckman is still hitting pins with her league, the Spunky Seniors, twice a week on Wednesdays and Fridays.

"I don't know, it just gets in your system and you just love it," Ruckman said. "It's just one of those things really draws you right in."

The sport is right up her alley. Her daughter got her hooked at the young age of 60 years old. It ignited Ruckman's competitive streak. Now, over 40 years later, she's still shuffling on the hardwood.

You won't find Ruckman ever bragging about her game, but Cox will gladly do it for her.

"She's pretty good," Cox said. "She's shot in the mid-400s for three games."

Ruckman is older than the mechanical pinsetter at the bowling alley. When she was born, actual people did that job.

"I'm older than everything," Ruckman said. "Everybody and everything."    

Her secret to a long life is staying in her lane.

"God has just been good to me," Ruckman said. "Just do the very best you can."

However, Cox has a different idea about how she reached her 103rd birthday.

"She'll say even when she's sick, the one thing she hates the most is missing bowling," Cox said. "So maybe that is the secret."    

Though time has stolen her perfect scores, her spirit hits a strike every time.

"When you get older and you're not coordinated as good, you can't bowl as well," Ruckman said.

The staff at Strike and Spare will continue to light up when Ruckman walks through the doors.

"She's amazing," Cox said. "She's such a sweetheart. She's a superstar for sure."

Out of her 103 birthday parties, this one was best spent at the bowling alley. Ruckman said she was overwhelmed by the whole celebration and felt lucky to still have the ability to be active.

She encourages everyone to bowl, no matter their age.