Koivuniemi, Kulick Win WBT Finals Titles; Experimental “Frame Play” Scoring System Unveiled

by Bill Vint January 25, 2015 06:54

LAS VEGAS – Experimental scoring system or not, veteran professional champions Mika Koivuniemi of Hartland, Mich., and Kelly Kulick of Union, N.J., proved great bowling prevails as winners of the fourth annual World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals, presented by the Professional Bowlers Association, at the new South Point Bowling Plaza.

The World Bowling Tour Finals, presented by the Professional Bowlers Association, was the concluding event of the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI. It featured three men and three women who earned their berths in the finals through a two-year global competition points race conducted jointly by World Bowling, the international governing body for tenpin bowling, and the PBA. The finals aired Sunday on ESPN.

Koivuniemi, a Finnish native and 14-time PBA Tour champion, won his second WBT Men’s title in a tightly-contested 1-up, 12-frame battle against Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., while Kulick won her second consecutive WBT Women’s Finals title with a 3 & 2 decision over Liz Johnson of Cheektowaga, N.Y.

The scores, reminiscent of Ryder Cup golf competition, were based on a “frame play” scoring system where the primary goal was to win each frame, and then win more frames than your opponent can possibly win in a 12-frame contest. For example, a strike by Player A would win the frame of an opponent who got nine pins on his/her first ball, and if Player A wins seven frames with only five remaining, he/she would win the match, 7 & 5.

The “frame play” system is being tested by World Bowling as an alternative for international match play competition, to make scoring in bowling more easily understood by the non-bowling public and, hopefully, more attractive to the International Olympic Committee.

In the Koivuniemi-Rash match, both players struck in six of their first seven shots to stand “all-square” with five frames to go. Koivuniemi struck in the eighth and ninth while Rash got eight and nine pins, respectively, to take a 2-up lead. Rash got back to within one point when he won the 10th frame, 9-7. Both struck in frame 11. Koivuniemi, protecting his fragile lead, matched Rash’s strike in the 12th frame for the 1-up victory.

In the men’s semifinal match, Rash eliminated Australia’s Jason Belmonte, 3 & 2, taking a 3-point lead after six frames and throwing another string of four strikes to shut out the reigning PBA Player of the Year with two frames to go.

Kulick’s string of three strikes early in the women’s final match gave her a 1-up lead after six frames, and she gained a 2-up edge with a 9-8 win in frame eight followed by a strike-7 win to go 3-up after nine frames. Both players went nine/spare in frame 10 to give Kulick a 3 & 2 victory.

The women’s semifinal match might have been the most dramatic contest under the new system. Andersson struck on six of her first seven shots to take a 3-up lead over Johnson, but Johnson answered with her own string of five strikes to pull the contest to all-square after 12 frames, and then won the match, 1-up in the 13th frame, with a strike while Andersson left a 4 pin.

The six players involved in the WBT Finals had varying viewpoints about the scoring system.

Koivuniemi said, “It was pretty easy to strike on this (lane conditioning) pattern, but you probably have a little more pressure on every shot in this format than normal because every shot means a little more. It’s still bowling and I like to throw more spares because I usually find a way to grind when conditions are tough. I keep myself close by throwing spares.

“I don’t mind (the format), but I’d like to see it on a tougher pattern to see how it goes. Right now, nobody throws spares, but this (format) is made for more non-bowlers. If they like and it helps save bowling, I have nothing against it. But I personally don’t think scoring is the problem (with the sport).”

Rash said, “I liked and enjoyed how every frame had pressure which kept me focused. I don't have a conclusion because this was a test run and I’m sure there will be a few tweaks to help make it even better going forward. The change I hope that is made is to add the spare shooting somehow.
“Overall, I look forward to the changes and look forward to being a part of a future show. If this will help bring more sponsors, more fans, more TV and publicity to our sport, I am all for it.”

Belmonte said, “My strategy, no matter what the scoring format is, is to strike. So from that standpoint, I don’t think it had any impact. I was very open-minded to this scoring system. I didn’t have any preconceived thoughts. I wanted to give it every possible chance to influence my thoughts without bias.

“My personal feeling is that I don’t believe the scoring system has anything to do with the decline in popularity of bowling. It fell a little flat for me, because I didn’t think the fans were into a regular-scored match. What I loved about it was that the World Bowling isn’t afraid to try new things. I admire and respect the leaders of World Bowling and I will always support the organization, even if my personal opinions are different than theirs.”

Kulick said, “You still have to show up, you still have to make shots. Every shot is precious. Usually, under conventional scoring, if you get a three-bagger and get a little ahead, your swing gets loosened up a bit, but frame-for-frame, every shot is crucial.

“As a player, my adrenalin was higher than if we were keeping score normally. I don’t know what my score would have been. Maybe I would have been up by 30 pins or so going into the 10th frame, but frame-for-frame, it comes down to execution. Maybe a little luck, but mostly execution.”

Johnson said, “It was definitely exciting. I honestly wasn’t all for it because I didn’t know much about it, but in the first match, it worked in my favor because I had a 4-9 and a 5-7 (splits that only counted as one lost point). Once I got to the end of the first match, I liked it a little better.

“It kept things exciting for the fans. I don’t know if I’m a fan of it for every week, personally, but it definitely adds a little excitement to the mix. If that’s what it takes to (get put into the Olympic Games program), if that’s what it takes to get more fans for bowling, then, yeah, I’m for it.”

Andersson said, “It was different. I haven’t made up my mind about how I feel about it. But my mindset was still the same. It was one shot at a time. I tried to repeat my shots. As long as I throw it good, there’s nothing more I can do.

“It was hard for me to keep up with the scoring system. I really didn’t know what was going on while I was bowling. It’s new, but it’s missing out on one important thing, and that’s making spare shots. For me, if you can’t make your spare shots, you’re not going to win. That’s bowling in my eyes.”

The PBA Tour returns to action Jan. 19-25 with qualifying and match play rounds in the PBA Players Championship and Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship at AMF Bowlero in Wauwatosa, Wis. Preliminary rounds will be covered live by PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame.

The ESPN-televised championship rounds in both events will be contested Feb. 14-15 as part of the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions celebration at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis. The Players Championship will air on ESPN on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET and the Doubles Championship will air on March 1 at 1 p.m. ET.

WORLD BOWLING TOUR FINALS
presented by the Professional Bowling Association
South Point Bowling Center, Las Vegas

MEN’S FINALS
Championship
: Mika Koivuniemi, Finland-Hartland, Mich. ($20,000) def. Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill. ($10,000), 1-up in 12 frames.
Semifinal Match: Rash def. Jason Belmonte, Australia ($5,000), 3 & 2.

WOMEN’S FINALS
Championship
: Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J. ($20,000) def. Liz Johnson, Cheektowaga, N.Y. ($10,000), 3 & 2.
Semifinal Match: Johnson def. Sandra Andersson, Sweden ($5,000), 1-up in 13 frames.

UNDERSTANDING THE EXPERIMENTAL WORLD BOWLING “FRAME PLAY” SCORING SYSTEM
The experimental system impacts how the sport is scored as well as the format for singles match play competition. It was used during the World Bowling Tour Men’s and Women’s Finals presented by the PBA during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI on a trial basis to help gather player, fan and news media input. Here’s how the system works:
1) A match will involve 12 frames.
2) In each frame, each player will throw one shot.
3) If Player A gets a higher pin count than Player B, he/she will win the frame.
4) If both players strike, the frame will be tied.
5) If neither player strikes, but each has the same pin count, each player will try to convert the spare. If both successfully convert their spares, the frame will be a tie. If one player has a higher pin count than the other after two shots, that player will win the frame.
6) Scoring for the match will reflect who has won the most frames (example, 1 up, 2 up, etc. All-square means the match is tied).
7) At the point one player has won more frames than frames remain (example: 3 up after 10 frames), he/she will be declared the winner.
If a match is “all-square” after 12 frames, the tie will be broken using the single-frame format described above until the tie is broken.

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Funeral Arrangements for Chuck Pezzano Re-Scheduled

by Bill Vint January 24, 2015 11:56

Due to the expected arrival of a winter storm in the area, funeral arrangements for PBA Hall of Famer Chuck Pezzano have been postponed by 24 hours. The new schedule is:

Wake: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 4-8 p.m.
Funeral Service: Thursday, Jan. 29, 10:30 a.m.

At: Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home
1313 Van Houten Avenue
Clifton, NJ 07013
Telephone: 973-546-2000

Additional information will be available on the Bizub-Quinlan website: www.bizub.com

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PBA Charter Member Chuck Pezzano Dies at 86

by Bill Vint January 23, 2015 13:14

CHICAGO – Chuck Pezzano of Clifton, N.J., a charter member of the Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Fame and widely recognized as the dean of bowling journalists, died Friday of cardiac arrest while undergoing a stent procedure at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, N.J. He turned 86 on Jan. 14.

Since the formation of the PBA in 1958, no one has contributed more to the organization in so many different ways than Pezzano, a founding member of the organization.

Born in Paterson, N.J., in 1929, Pezzano lived his entire life in New Jersey. After graduating from Rutgers University, he started his writing career with the Paterson Morning Call in 1952 and continued writing for The Record in Bergen County until his death, more than 60 years later. Over the years, he contributed to more than 100 publications round the world and authored or co-authorized more than a dozen books about bowling.

Pezzano first became involved with the PBA as a top-flight competitor. He was the first collegiate bowler in the United States to bowl an 800 series. One of his proudest accomplishments as a bowler was joining his four sons – Charles Jr., Craig, Curt and Clay – as the first father and four sons to bowl 300 games.

But his legacy off the lanes far surpassed his credentials as a player as he evolved into the most prolific bowling writer in history.

In the 1960s, Pezzano and fellow New Jersey entrepreneur/PBA Hall of Famer Frank Esposito created the PBA Regional program, creating a close-to-home, affordable competition arena for thousands of would-be professional bowlers to develop their skills.

He was the first Meritorious Service inductee in the inaugural PBA Hall of Fame class in 1975, and later inducted into the United States Bowling Congress and Bowling Writers Association of America Halls of Fame, among his 12 halls of fames.

In addition to his prolific writing contributions, Pezzano was a television pioneer, working with hall of fame broadcasters Mel Allen, Chris Schenkel, Jack Buck, Brent Musberger, Al Trautwig and others. He worked as a consultant on television, movie and instructional videos, and traveled the country serving as an emcee and guest speaker at hundreds of bowling functions.

Pezzano also was heavily involved in PBA business affairs, running the PBA East Region for 20 years. He was secretary of the PBA Hall of Fame for nearly 20 years, and served as the organization’s official historian for longer than that. He helped open the door for women bowling writers to join the previously all-male Bowling Writers Association of America (which later named its scholarship program in his honor) and he was a lifelong advocate for high school and collegiate bowling. He was actively involved in charitable fundraisers, and worked closely with curator Bruce Pluckhahn in planning exhibits for the “new” International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in St. Louis.

When the PBA dedicated its pressroom in his honor in 2011, Pezzano said, “It was Will Rogers who noted that he never met a man he didn't like. I won't go that far but I will say that I never met someone in bowling that I didn't like something about.

“Through bowling I have traveled more than three million miles, visited every state, and places such as Las Vegas and Reno more than 150 times, delved into the history of the sport, learning about the roles of women, minorities, bowling communications and halls of fame. Writing, broadcasting, speaking, serving on special committees (18 hall of fame committees) being involved in major innovations to and for the sport that provide endless fodder for all bowling involvements. The goal always is to just do

everything a little better than it has been done.”

Failing health had limited his travel in recent years, but Pezzano never stopped wanting to help.

“Chuck called me a week ago, still trying to help the PBA,” PBA Commissioner Tom Clark said Friday. “He’s an icon, prolific and multi-talented. There will never be another like him. He’ll be greatly missed.”

Pezzano is survived by his four sons, grandchildren Amanda Rose Pezzano and Jarod Charles Pezzano, and brothers Russell and Arnold Pezzano. He was preceded in death by his wife Lila (nee Grosser) in 1983, brother William and sister Joan.

Services are pending.

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PBA Spare Shots: Lucky Fan Could Win a Chance to Bowl with Chris Paul in 2016

by Bill Vint January 23, 2015 07:19

NBA star Chris Paul, host of the CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational, is offering a lucky fan an opportunity to bowl with the Los Angeles Clippers’ all-star guard during the 2016 celebrity fundraiser in Los Angeles. The winning fan and a friend will win an expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles, free hotel accommodations, and a chance to meet Paul and his celebrity friends.

To enter, you need to pick the finalists and winner in the 2015 CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational. You need to visit this link: https://www.crowdrise.com/cp3foundation and click on the “Donate and Play for a chance to win” link where you will you be asked to select the two celebrity finalists and the winner. A “Player Bios” link also will give you some insight into the celebrity bowlers’ backgrounds.

For each $10 contribution you make to Paul’s CP3 Foundation, you get one entry into the contest. Entries close at 12 p.m. PT on Sunday, Feb. 1. The CP3 PBA Celebrity Invitational will air on ESPN on Super Bowl Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

XTRA FRAME TO COVER PLAYER, ROOKIE OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCEMENTS MONDAY

Xtra Frame will kick off five days of extensive live coverage of the PBA Players Championship and Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship qualifying and match play rounds with a live presentation show Monday at 5:30 p.m. ET, when PBA Commissioner Tom Clark will announce the 2014 GEICO Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year, Harry Golden Rookie of the Year, Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner and the winner of the 2014 Tony Reyes Community Service Award.

PBA Players and Doubles Championship coverage will follow from AMF Bowlero in Milwaukee starting Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET and continuing through Friday. The PBA Network will have full coverage of the competition throughout its diverse media outlets.

For a complete schedule of upcoming events on Xtra Frame, click here: http://www.pba.com/Live/. To subscribe to Xtra Frame, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame link. Full year Xtra Frame Season Ticket subscriptions are available for $64.99; one-month subscriptions are only $7.99. Xtra Frame is a major component of the PBA’s multi-media PBA Network.

TICKETS FOR ESPN TELECASTS IN INDIANAPOLIS NOW AVAILABLE

Tickets for the live ESPN telecast of the 50th anniversary Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions, and finals of the PBA Players Championship and Mark Roth/Marshall Holman PBA Doubles Championship, over the Feb. 14-15 weekend at Woodland Bowl in Indianapolis are now on sale on pba.com.

The “tripleheader” ESPN weekend begins with the finals of the PBA Players Championship on Saturday, Feb. 14, at 7 p.m. ET for delayed broadcast on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 1 p.m. ET. The Tournament of Champions stepladder finals will air live on Sunday, Feb. 15, at 1 p.m. The Roth/Holman Doubles finals will be contested at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday for telecast on Sunday, March 1, at 1 p.m. ET.

For ticket information, click here: http://www.pba.com/Tickets/.

PBA NETWORK SIGNS SPONSORSHIP PACT WITH LEAGUE PALS

PBA Network, the PBA’s multi-platform media service, has signed a sponsorship agreement with League Pals, a new service that is designed to automate and streamline the cash flow of league bowling. The unique platform enables bowlers and bowling centers to track weekly payments, view stats and standings, search nearby leagues, create and fill teams, receive payments electronically, and more.

"It's 2015 and there are over $2.25 billion in league bowling dues being tracked and collected each year with a paper envelope and a pencil,” said LeaguePals co-founder and CEO Bill Savastano. “LeaguePals set out to introduce much needed technology in a unique and inclusive way to an industry we have a deep and unwavering passion for. We feel LeaguePals will breathe new life into leagues across the nation by starting with the most important pieces - the bowlers, the centers, and how they pay and get paid."

For a preview of what League Pals has to offer, view the introductory video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2mbQFILJmI

As part of the sponsorship package, League Pals will have a rotating ad on pba.com throughout February, presenting sponsor and other visibilities on PBA’s online video streaming service, Xtra Frame, throughout the USBC Masters (Feb. 2-7 in Green Bay, Wis.), and prominent links on PBA’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

For information about how to enroll in the League Pals program, visit: www.leaguepals.com.

BARRETT, KULICK TOP WORLD BOWLING TOUR POINTS LISTS AT END OF 2014

At the conclusion of the 2014 season – including the finals of the PBA World Championship – England’s Dom Barrett is the World Bowling Tour men’s points leader, and for the first time since the cooperative PBA-World Bowling international competition began four years ago, Finnish native Mika Koivuniemi is not among the top three men.

Koivuniemi is the defending WBT Men’s champion and the only male to win that title twice.

Barrett made his move to the top of the two-year, rolling points list with a 10th-place finish in the PBA World Championship, a successful defense of his Qatar Open title and a fifth-place finish in the Kingdom International Open in Saudi Arabia to close the year with 588 WBT points. Reigning PBA World Champion Mike Fagan is second with 582 points, Sean Rash third with 560, Australia’s Jason Belmonte fourth at 532 and Koivuniemi is fifth with 531 in the race for the top three positions for the 2015 WBT Men’s Finals which will be held as part of PBA World Series of Bowling VII in Las Vegas in the fall. Rounding out the men’s top 10 with a full schedule of PBA International-World Bowling Tour events yet to come in 2015 are Tommy Jones (467), Finland’s Osku Palermaa (444), Sweden’s Martin Larsen (394), Chris Barnes (378) and England’s Stuart Williams (338).

Two-time defending WBT Women’s champion Kelly Kulick has a big lead on the women’s points list (698), 149 points head of Liz Johnson (559). Sweden’s Sandra Andersson is third (421) followed by Singapore’s Jazreel Tan (394) and Shayna Ng (348), Missy Parkin (318), Colombia’s Clara Guerrero (286), Singapore’s Cheri Tan (283), Danielle McEwan (253) and Sweden’s Joline Persson Planefors (251).

PBA REGIONAL UPDATE: TOURNAMENT ACTIVITY BACK IN FULL SWING IN FEBRUARY

PBA Regional activity returns to full swing in February, following the end-of-month Don Vay Memorial Regular/PBA50 Doubles Central Classic presented by Ebonite at Legend Lanes in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Jan. 23-25.

● The Feb. 6-8 weekend includes the Break Point Alley South Challenge presented by DV8, a tournament for non-title winners, in Tavares, Fla., and the PBA50 Tony Grigat Allstate Midwest/Central Open at River Rand Lanes in Des Plaines, Ill.

● The Feb. 20-22 weekend includes the PBA50 Dave Edwards Toyota South Open presented by Ebonite in Spartanburg, S.C.; the Lakewood Colorado Southwest Open at Holiday Bowling and Billiards; the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort West Championship at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., and the Lynwood Midwest Challenge presented by Roto Grip, a non-titlists event, at Lynwood Bowl in Lynwood, Ill.

For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, visit pba.com, open the “schedules” tab and click on Regional Tours to find the event(s) in your area.

QUICK NOTES

2014 PBA Regional Challenge winner Josh Blanchard and wife Aimee are the proud new parents of Madalyn Marie Blanchard, who arrived at 1:13 p.m. on Jan. 16. Vital statistics: Madalyn weighed in at 7 pounds, 12 ounces and measured 21 inches long.

● PBA Hall of Famer Brian Voss, who has competed extensively in Europe over the past three years, added the 27th Irish Open title to his collection on Jan. 18, defeating fellow American Ron Hurt, 439-386, in the two-game title match at Leisureplex Stillorgan in Dublin, Ireland. Voss, a 25-time PBA Tour titlist, earned 5,000 Euros (roughly $5,600) along with his fourth European Bowling Tour title.

● Reminder: if you missed Sunday’s ESPN telecast of the PBA Challenge presented by the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, all GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VI telecasts are archived on Xtra Frame three days after they air on ESPN. Click on the “2014 WSOB archives” tab on the left side of the Xtra Frame home page for a complete listing of archived shows.

● Reminder: HotelPlanner.com, the official travel partner of the PBA, has renewed its sweepstakes program for 2015 and will award a $200 lodging gift certificate to a lucky winner each month all year. To enter, book a hotel room through HotelPlanner.com using one of the links below before the last day of the month, and you will be automatically entered. The monthly drawing will take place on the last day of the month. The $200 gift certificate will be valid for hotel room and tax only.

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Monacelli Avenges PBA50 Tour Loss to Williams in PBA Challenge; Parkin, Blanchard, Coffey Also Win

by Bill Vint January 18, 2015 09:00

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.

PBA CHALLENGE
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.

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