March 13, 2007 19:00
Despite bowling the best he’s bowled all season, Ronnie Russell was more happy with one of his competitor’s performances than his own in Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round at Woodland Bowl.
An Indianapolis native, Russell led the Tour Qualifying Round for the first time this season with a 1,774 seven-game pinfall, finishing just ahead of non-exempt points leader Dino Castillo, who finished second with 1,721.
Russell is currently third among non-exempt bowers in the PBA World Point Rankings with two events remaining including this week, with the top non-exempt bowler after those events earning an exemption for next season.
Castillo leads that race, but he’s 38th in points and should he stay in the top 39 he would drop out of the non-exempt race and earn the exemption via the top 39. Also aiding Russell was Dave D’Entremont – who is second among non-exempt bowlers – winning the PBA Central Region points race last weekend, which gave him an exemption and dropped him out of the non-exempt race.
Thus, Russell was happy to see Castillo make Thursday’s Round of 64, which gives Castillo a good chance of staying in the top 39.
“It was more satisfying seeing (Dino) do well than me. Without him none of this matters. Now we both need to bowl well tomorrow and make match play,” Russell said. “I didn’t sleep a lot last night because I felt like I had a lot of expectations. I’ve started to learn how to handle myself a little better though. I went through some failures in the past when I’ve been in the spotlight. This whole year I’ve kind of brought it back when I did need something.”
Russell has always bowled well in his hometown. In last season’s Denny’s World Championship at Woodland Bowl, the former All-American at Vincennes University led after 27 games of qualifying and finished the event 14th overall. On Wednesday, he fired back-to-back 279s in games two and three to jump ahead early, then cruised with an average of 251.25 over the final four games including a 269 in the final game.
Six PBA members and one amateur advanced to Thursday’s Round of 64. Besides Russell and Castillo (Carrollton, Texas), Steve Harman (Camby, Ind.), Michael Ragon (Marion, Ind.), Walter Schaub II (Schaumburg, Ill.) and Liz Johnson (Cheektowaga, N.Y.) advanced along with amateur William Guszczo (Orland Park, Ill.). Johnson (Cheektowaga, N.Y.) was originally out of the cut by two pins, but Patrick Healey Jr. withdrew Wednesday evening to give an additional spot to PBA members.
Thursday’s Round of 64 features two seven-game qualifying blocks, the first of which gets underway at 11 a.m. EST. The top 32 advance to Friday’s round robin match play.
The top five bowlers after match play advance to Sunday’s live ESPN televised finals at 12:30 p.m. EST. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2007-08 Denny’s PBA Tour season.
300 games - Louis Franzetti, Liz Johnson.
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