by PBA Editor January 13, 2007 19:00
Sean Rash became just the second bowler in Denny’s PBA Tour history to win a title in his first three TV appearances, defeating Brian Himmler, 262-190, to win the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic Sunday at Lava Lanes.

The 24-year-old won his first career title last season, becoming the first bowler in history to go from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round to the title. He won his second title earlier this season in the Beltway Classic.

Rash nearly made more history, as he started with the title match with eight consecutive strikes and looked like he might become the 18th bowler in history to bowl a televised 300 game. He opened in the 9th frame to end the string, but cruised to improve to 6-0 on TV in his short career.

“This one means a lot. Earl Anthony and Dick Weber were two of the greatest bowlers of all time, and to win the tournament named after Earl means a lot,” said Rash (Wichita, Kan.). “Hopefully us young guns can win as many times as they did. I’d like to win the Dick Weber event next week as well.”

Last season’s PBA Rookie of the Year runner-up joined Hugh Miller as the only other bowler to win his first three TV appearances. Miller won titles in his first four TV appearances.

Rash advanced to the title match with a 232-227 win over Patrick Healey Jr. Healey held the early lead after striking in five of the first six frames, while Rash had four consecutive spares in frames 4-7, including a crucial 4-9 split conversion in the 5th. Healey had back-to-back nine-spares to let Rash back in the match, and Rash took advantage with a double in the 8th and 9th. Healey still could have shut Rash out with a double in the 10th, but he had another nine-spare and Rash struck with his first ball in the 10th to win.

In the first semifinal, Himmler defeated the No. 1 bowler in the PBA World Point Rankings Wes Malott, 209-183. Malott had back-to-back opens in the 4th and 5th and struck just twice the rest of the match. Himmler’s double in the 8th and 9th all but wrapped up the match.

Rash earned $25,000, while Himmler (Cincinnati) took home $13,000 for second. Malott (Argyle, Texas) earned $6,500 for third and Healey (Denton, Texas) earned $5,500 for fourth.

Next week the Denny’s PBA Tour heads to Fountain Valley, Calif., for the 2007 Dick Weber Open, Jan. 16-21 at Fountain Bowl. The live ESPN televised stepladder finals take place Sunday, Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. PST.

Denny’s PBA Tour
2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic
Lava Lanes
Medford, Ore.
Sunday, Jan. 14


Pos.Name, hometownTotal/GamesMoney
1.Sean Rash, Wichita, Kan.494 (2 games)$25,000
2.Brian Himmler, Cincinnati399 (2 games)$13,000
3.Wes Malott, Argyle, Texas183 (1 game)$6,500
4.Patrick Healey Jr., Denton, Texas227 (1 game)$5,500

SCORES – In the first match, Himmler def. Malott, 209-183; in the second match, Rash defeated Healey, 232-227; and in the final, Rash def. Himmler, 262-190.

This is Rash’s third career Denny’s PBA Tour title.

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by PBA Editor January 11, 2007 19:00
After Thursday’s Round of 64, the thought of defending his Earl Anthony Medford Classic title looked bleak, but after Friday’s match-play, Brian Himmler sits in prime position to make it two straight at Lava Lanes.

The four-time PBA title holder was the last man to qualify for the Round of 32, but quickly made some noise by knocking off top-seeded Tim Criss (Bel Air, Md.), four-games-to-two.

Himmler then topped last week’s H&R Block Classic champion Patrick Allen (Wesley Chapel, Fla.), 4-2, which ended Allen’s 18-game winning streak, before eliminating Del Ballard Jr. (North Richland Hills, Texas), 4-1.

“I’m excited, but that was a year ago,” said Himmler (Cincinnati) about the possibility of defending his title. “I had a great first round today after struggling last night. I had a big break and made match play by one pin. You have to have breaks out here if you want to survive and I got a couple of big breaks.”

Himmler has had previous success in defending a title, winning back-to-back titles in Vernon Hills, Ill., in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

To get to the title match, Himmler must first go through Wes Malott (Argyle, Texas), who earned a career-high fifth TV appearance this season. The 12th seed did so by cruising by No. 4 Jason Couch (Clermont, Fla.), 4-1, averaging 253.2 over five games in the match.

The other half of the bracket will feature 2006 Beltway Classic winner Sean Rash (Wichita, Kan.) taking on No. 26 Patrick Healey Jr. (Flower Mound, Texas).

Rash advanced to Sunday’s show by defeating two consecutive bowlers from the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round in Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas), 4-2, and Ronnie Russell (Indianapolis), 4-1.

Healey, the only bowler of the four finalists not to win in five games, defeated Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.), 4-2. It wasn’t the longest match of the day for the three-time Denny’s PBA Tour titlist, however, as he went seven games with Steve Jaros (Yorkville, Ill.) and Ryan Shafer (Horseheads, N.Y.) in the Rounds of 16 and 32, respectively.

The top four bowlers advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST at Lava Lanes. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
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Couch, O'Neill Tied at the Top

by PBA Editor January 10, 2007 19:00
In the end, neither thought they were leading, but Jason Couch and Bill O’Neill sit together atop the leader board after the first seven games of the Round of 64 in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.

As they entered the seventh game, O’Neill (Levittown, Pa.) was in second by one pin behind Bryon Smith (Roseburg, Ore.) while Couch (Clermont, Fla.) sat fourth, 27 pins behind Smith. While O’Neill had a 202 in the final game, it was Couch who made the bigger jump, finishing with a 234 and a seven-game pinfall of 1,693.

“I didn’t think I threw it very well yesterday (in practice), but apparently I’m doing better today because I got lined up awful quick,” said Couch, who finished third in last week’s H&R Block Classic. “I’m working on a couple of thumb holes I didn’t think felt right, but I’m going to keep doing the same thing I did the first seven games.”

O’Neill admitted to being surprised that he was a leader after finishing with a 202 in his final game.

“I was really surprised. I bowled 30 over the last three games. I didn’t think that was good,” said the right hander, who fired a high game of 280 in game four. “I only had one open the last three games, but the lanes changed a lot and my ball wasn’t striking. It was hitting the pocket, just not striking.”

The defending Earl Anthony Medford Classic champion, Brian Himmler (Cincinnati), sits in third with 1,684.

Smith, who won the 2003 Masters and finished third in Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round, is fourth with 1,678.

All 64 bowlers return at 6 p.m. PST for another seven games. The top 32 from today’s rounds advance to Friday’s single-elimination match play with the Round of 32 scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. PST.

The top four bowlers will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST at Lava Lanes. The winner will take home $25,000 and a one-season Denny’s PBA Tour exemption.
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Slow Your Roll

by PBA Editor January 10, 2007 19:00
Though he’s nicknamed “Turtle” for his slow ball speed, Tim Criss sped away from the field Thursday in the 2007 Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.

Criss’ slow ball roll matched up well with the lanes in Medford, Ore., for the second consecutive season as he averaged 254.86 over the final seven games to lead the Round of 64 with 3,422 14-game pinfall, earning the top seed for Friday’s match play.

The 21-year Denny’s PBA Tour veteran and five-time titlist finished fourth in last season’s event at Lava Lanes, and he’ll look to qualify for his first championship round appearance since that event in January 2006. It would also mark just his second television appearance since 2001.

“My carry percentage was just incredible tonight. I pulled out an Overtime by Ebonite and it smoothed out the wet-dry. I think I struck 95% of the time I hit the pocket,” Criss (Bel Air, Md.) said. “The lanes normally play pretty tight here which favors my ball speed so I don’t feel like I have to fight the early hook like I do in other centers.”

Criss came into the week 39th in the PBA World Point Rankings. The top 40 earn exemptions of the 2007-08 season, but 10 events remain which award points.

“It’s way too early to worry about that,” Criss said. “I’ve been starting off slow the last couple of years and both times I’ve bowled much better the second half. I feel like I’ve turned it around the last couple weeks.”

A 290 in game nine and a 279 in game 14 helped Criss cruise to the lead. He’ll face defending champion Brian Himmler (Cincinnati) in the Round of 32. Himmler edged out Brian LeClair (Athens, N.Y.) by one pin for the final spot in match play with a 257 in game 14. Ironically, Himmler defeated Criss in the event’s semifinals last season on his way to the title.

Finishing second with 3,343 was 2005-06 PBA Rookie of the Year Bill O’Neill (Levittown, Pa.). O’Neill will face No. 31 Jeff Carter (Springfield, Ill.) in the Round of 32.

Roseburg, Ore., resident Bryon Smith, who advanced to the Round of 64 through Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round, finished ninth with 3,244. Smith, a former Masters champion, will face 12-time titlist Del Ballard Jr. (N. Richland Hills, Texas), who finished 24th with 3,154.

Match play Friday features single elimination, best-of-seven games match play starting at 9 a.m. PST.

The final four advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.

300 Games (1) - Dino Castillo.

Notes - Exempt bowler Chris Barnes' wife, Lynda, had a big night Thursday, winning her third U.S. Amateur title in the 2007 United States Bowling Congress (USBC) Team USA Trials.

Barnes, a 10-time Team USA member, fired a 8,816 40-game pinfall over four days to lead the field. She also captured U.S. Amateur titles in 1995 and 2005.

Barnes trailed three-time U.S. Amateur champion Shannon Pluhowsky of Phoenix by three pins heading into the final game, but Barnes fired 227 to Pluhowsky's 181 to secure the victory.

Her husband, Chris, a seven-time Denny's PBA Tour titlist, finished 15th Thursday in the Round of 64 to advance to match play. He's looking for his first title of the 2006-07 season.
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Freiberg Fries the Field

by PBA Editor January 9, 2007 19:00
At just 20 years old, Matt Freiberg knows he’ll learn more from his failures than his successes as a qualifier on the Denny’s PBA Tour, but he’ll take a day like he had Wednesday any time.

Freiberg led the Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round for the first time in his career and topped it off with his second 300 game of the season, finishing with a 1,815 seven-game pinfall at Lava Lanes.

The Somerset, N.J., native has been bowling the Tour Qualifying Rounds the last two seasons, qualifying three times and aquiring valuable knowledge along the way.

“I could probably write a decent sized book about how much I’ve learned since I’ve been out here. And it hasn’t even slowed down yet. I still learn something every time out here,” Freiberg said. “You learn so much more when you bowl badly because you take the time to figure out what you’re doing wrong and you learn how to make the right ball changes. When you’re stringing a lot of strikes together it’s hard to learn from that.”

Freiberg also spent this summer working at the Kegel Training Center in Orlando, Fla.

“I had a run after I made the cut in Parkersburg last season until the end of the season when I didn’t cash once. I learned so much from those six or seven eight weeks and from working at Kegel,” Freiberg said. “You can’t learn nearly as much when you’re out bowling league.”

Freiberg came out smoking with a 287 then took over the lead with games of 267, 258 and 253. He then had his two lowest games of the day – 224 and 226 – before finishing with his second career 300. His first came in the TQR for the Columbia 300 Classic in December, where he qualified for the first time this season.

Finishing second with 1,736 was Steve Weber (Chalmette, La.) while local bowler Bryon Smith (Roseburg, Ore.) finished third with 1,698.

Advancing for the fourth time this season were Troy Wollenbecker (Toledo, Ohio), who finished fourth with 1,668, and Dino Castillo (Carrollton, Texas) who was fifth with 1,602. Earning the sixth and final spot in the Round of 64 was Ronnie Russell (Indianapolis), who qualified for the third time this season, with 1,586.

Earning a spot in the Round of 64 as the top amateur was Matt Eilenberger (Central Point, Ore.), who finished 14th with 1,542.

The top six PBA members advanced this week as exempt bowlers Amleto Monacelli and Jim Pratt withdrew.
Thursday’s Round of 64 features two seven-game qualifying blocks, the first of which gets underway at 11 a.m. PST.
The top 32 will advance to single elimination match play on Friday.

The final four advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 10 a.m. PST. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.
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