LAS VEGAS – Venezuelan native Amleto Monacelli defeated fellow Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Walter Ray Williams Jr. of Oxford, Fla., with a near-perfect game, 277-219, to win the PBA50 Tour Finals as part of a four-match PBA Challenge presented by the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame at the new South Point Bowling Plaza.
The PBA Challenge Finals presented by the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame aired Sunday on ESPN. The PBA Challenge was a GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI showcase for four different aspects of PBA competition – youth, seniors, women and regional. PBA50, PBA Women’s Regional and PBA Regional qualifying events were held earlier in the World Series, with the top two players advancing to the finals. The Teen Masters boys’ and girls’ division winners were decided during the summer in Tamarac, Fla.
In the opening PBA50 Tour Finals match between 2013 finalists, Monacelli avenged his 224-204 loss to Williams. Monacelli just missed a perfect game, leaving the 3-6-10 in the eighth frame, for his only mistake.
“I told myself this morning that I should shoot 300 on TV,” Monacelli said. “That would have been nice. I shot 287 against Mark Roth one time, but I was really focusing on what I needed to do to win the match. It’s a nice way to end the season.”
Monacelli said he lost his focus in the eighth frame when he rushed himself to avoid a shot clock violation.
“But I don’t use that as an excuse because I know what I was supposed to do when things like that come up,” he said, “and I just didn’t do what I needed to do. It’s my own fault.”
In the Teen Masters Grand Championship that followed, Michael Coffey, 19, of Melbourne, Fla., defeated 18-year-old Kelly Skalacki of Corem, N.Y., 202-156, in a match that involved a long oil pattern on the left lane and a shorter application on the right. In addition, all Teen Masters players are limited to using one “old-school” plastic ball and/or one urethane ball, placing emphasis on player skill over technology.
Coffey, who is bowling for Lindenwood University in St. Louis, started with three strikes and had only one open frame – a missed 10 pin in the sixth frame. Skalacki, a member of the Webber International collegiate team in Lake Wales, Fla., struggled with the demanding environment and didn’t strike until the eighth frame.
Both Teen Masters gender division winners were making their national television debuts.
“I was a lot less nervous than I thought I would be because I prepared really hard and this is something I want really badly,” Coffey said. “It’s like being around family; you’re not nervous when you’re around family and I feel like this is where I belong.”
Is PBA competition part of his future plans? He answered emphatically, “Yes.”
Parkin won match three easily, 266-202. Parkin, who represented the PBA West Region in the inaugural PBA Women’s Regional finals, defeated PBA Southwest Region representative Clara Guerrero of Pflugerville, Texas. Parkin struck on nine of her first 10 shots, while back-to-back 4-6-7 splits in the seventh and eighth frames ended Guerrero’s hopes.
“I was extremely excited when I heard about the PBA Women’s Regional program,” Parkin said, “so I jumped on the opportunity right away. I actually cancelled a big trip to Costa Rica in order to bowl one of the regionals, so this definitely made it worthwhile. It was really a great opportunity to be able to come to the World Series.
“On top of that, my focus was on making the TV show,” she continued. “I practiced a lot getting ready and I bowled really well to make it to TV. That’s the grandest stage of all, the reason we all bowl. Today, I came out remembering why we bowl – because we love our sport. I wanted to have fun and I did and the pins cooperated, so it all worked out.”
Match four pitted 2012 PBA Rookie of the Year Josh Blanchard of Gilbert, Ariz., representing the PBA Northwest Region, against 2013 Rookie of the Year EJ Tackett of Huntington, Ind., representing the Central Region, in the PBA Regional Finals.
Blanchard took the lead with a spare followed by three strikes while Tackett struggled with pin carry in the early frames. Tackett made a ball change in the sixth frame and got lined up, but Blanchard was lined up as well, putting the match away with a late string of five strikes to win, 258-236.
“I had a good ball reaction the whole match,” Blanchard said. “I used a ball I hadn’t thrown until my last shot in practice. I struck with it and made all the right moves, so it made it easy to bowl. I knew (EJ) was going to bowl a good game and the other balls I used in practice, it seemed like I’d bowl a 210, 200, so I needed something different. After that one shot, I knew I was going to stick with it the whole match.”
Blanchard also made it into the PBA Regional field by winning the final Northwest Region event of the season.
“I was supposed to go to (fellow PBA competitor) Andres Gomez’s wedding, but I cancelled – and I ended up winning the regional to get into the field,” he said.
While winning the Regional Finals wasn’t the same as winning his first PBA Tour title, Blanchard feels like he’s getting closer to that goal.
“I’ve been out here for two years and I’m still working at it,” he said. “I change my game every year trying to find the ‘it’ factor to get my first win. Usually when guys do that, they’ll win two or three times, and keep moving along. I’m still waiting for that ‘it’ factor.”
Closing the telecast, the four winners participated in a special one-shot, low-player-out Bonus Knockout Round. Parkin won the event with a strike in the third round to eliminate Blanchard, who left a 10 pin. Coffey was eliminated in the first round and Monacelli was knocked out in the second.
The World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by the PBA, the final event conducted during the GEICO PBA WSOB VI, will air Sunday, Jan. 25, on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. ET. The WBT event will be contested using an experimental “best frame” scoring system that is being tested by World Bowling. Finnish native Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich.; Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., and Jason Belmonte of Australia will bowl for the WBT Men’s title. Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J.; Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Sandra Andersson of Sweden will compete in the WBT Women’s final.
presented by International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas
PBA50 Tour Final: Amleto Monacelli, Venezuela ($8,000) def. Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., ($4,000), 277-219.
Teen Masters Grand Championship: Michael Coffey, Melbourne, Fla. ($10,000 scholarship) def. Kelly Skalacki, Corem, N.Y., ($7,500 scholarship), 202-156.
PBA Women’s Regional Final: Missy Parkin, Laguna Hills, Calif. ($8,000) def. Clara Guerrero, Pflugerville, Texas ($4,000), 266-202.
PBA Regional Final: Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz. ($8,000) def. E.J. Tackett, Huntington, Ind. ($4,000), 258-236.