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Demos a demon on lanes

Yeah, he’s a true amateur now, or he was until he won $10,000 this year in the 205-and-under category in the 2013 True Amateur Tournament in Nevada. But don’t discount Demos Quintana from earning a lot more in bowling as time goes on.

He’s almost an enigma: He grew up in Albuquerque, then lived back East for a time before living in Taos, where his father had been raised. He dropped out of Taos High School — “I started working,” he said — and later went to night school in pursuit of a diploma.

He went to TVI and transferred to the University of New Mexico, where he studied and earned degrees in quantum physics and applied mathematics.

Quintana bowled as a pre-teen, remembering what the experience had been back East, when he slipped on rented shoes and rolled a nine-pound ball.

He gave the sport up before picking it up again barely a year ago and making arguably the most progress on the lanes ever witnessed at Tenpins & More.

It wasn’t that long ago that Quintana, 33, had a paltry 140 average and would be amazed watching others rolling 180s at Tenpins & More. “I wasn’t very serious about it,” Quintana explained. “It was fun, but I worked 50 hours a week, took 15-18 credit hours and hardly slept.”

He discovered a Monday special at Tenpins & More, which rekindled his passion and was asked by Mackie if he’d like to join a league. “I started doing that,” Quintana said, and that’s what led to his phenomenal progress in running up his scores and average. Not to mention competing in six leagues and bowling four days a week this past winter.

Just last fall, Quintana was averaging 180 or so. Working then with Tenpins & More pro Mike Miller started paying big dividends, as Quintana now carries an average somewhere around 210 and regularly scores in the 220s and 230s. He even has four 300s to his credit.

“He’s working on the right thing the right way,” Miller said.

“Mike’s a phenomenal coach — he sees things,” Quintana said, now finding the game of bowling “very relaxing.

“The math and the physics do help,” Quintana said, adding he worked hard last year to increase his ball speed. Understanding oil patterns and their effects is also important, “(but) you want to keep it simple.”

“You knew he was going to go at it 100 percent,” said Dana Miller Mackie at the Rio Rancho center. “He’s not a 50-percenter. He gets it.”

Added her husband, Steve Mackie, “He asks questions and he listens.”

The “TAT” where Quintana pocketed 10 grand is an amateurs-only bowling tournament — no PBA members or $10,000 winners from the past three years could enter. The TAT was a seven-day qualifying event with five different tournaments that run simultaneously throughout the week, with more than 400 ways to cash.

One in 10 bowlers makes the TAT finals in each division and is guaranteed a minimum of $500 with more money getting added every round a bowler advances until there is a top five. Bowlers that are knocked out in the TAT main finals can get added back by the highest losing score and only be one round behind in the prizes, which is why anyone can win the TAT.

Chalk one up for Quintana, whom Mackie thinks will be a legitimate contender for the finals of the 10th annual New Mexico Open at Tenpins & More Aug. 16-18. No bowler from New Mexico has won the event since its second year, back in 2005, when John Young of Tijeras won for the second year in a row.

“This is home for me,” Quintana says of the Rio Rancho center, although he really lives in Ventana Ranch in Northwest Albuquerque.