Randy Cochran has come a long way.

Randy Cochran has come a long way.

The Rogue River resident was a self-described "terrible" bowler in 1979. Now he's one week away from being inducted into the Oregon State United States Bowling Congress Hall of Fame.

His first game was 35 years ago, at Lucky Lanes Bowling Center in Klamath Falls.

"My buddy and I are playing pool at the bowling alley," recalls the 59-year-old Cochran. "I'm tired of getting beat, so he challenges me to bowling. I was terrible. I think I bowled a 130-something. But while he was up bowling, I started looking at the balls on the racks and found one different one with a fingertip grip. I used it our second game and bowled a 207 and, man, was I hooked. When we finished I went up to the front and inquired about leagues."

Thousands of pins have since fallen.

Cochran will be honored along with Clackamas' Roger LeClair at an awards banquet July 26 at Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville. Only two Oregonians are inducted each year.

Cochran was inducted into the Rogue Valley Bowling Association Hall of Fame in 2013, entering for superior performance.

"It is a little bit surprising actually, but maybe I don't recognize my own talents," Cochran says.

His statistics speak for themselves.

Cochran, who for 13 years managed the pro shop at Lava Lanes, has bowled 62 games of 300 and 28 series of over 800 in a 36-year career. His high series is 847.

Cochran has maintained a sanctioned book average of over 200 for 33 years, with a high league average of 237 in 2001.

He's secured one state championship, seven Southern Oregon All-Stars titles and seven Southern Oregon Senior crowns and has claimed numerous city titles.

Cochran coordinated the Medford event on the PBA Tour for nine years, oversaw the Southern Oregon Senior All-Stars and is the facilitator of the Southern Oregon Bowling Association. Additionally, he assists his wife Pattie in running the Oregon State Women's Association State Championships.

Cochran helped students establish a bowling program at Southern Oregon University and coached it. He also managed the Learn to Bowl League and has been active in the Coca Cola Junior Program.

"My own personal goals are centered around people within the game, not so much my own game," says Cochran, who will resume play in September.

Hall of Famer Jerome Lee, a Medford resident, nominated Cochran in April. Lee and his wife, Nina, have known him for decades.

"He's a good friend and a tremendous bowler," Nina says. "He's very deserving."

Says Cochran of the Lees: "Those people are special. Jerome is our greatest amateur athlete in the valley."

Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email djones@mailtribune.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt