January 9, 2008 19:00
All-time Denny’s PBA Tour titles leader Walter Ray Williams Jr. started Thursday’s Round of 64 with a 300 game and was atop the leader board after each of the first 12 games. But when it was all said and done, 21-year-old Ryan Ciminelli stood alone at the top.
Ciminelli, who led Wednesday’s Denny’s PBA Tour Qualifying Round to earn a spot in the Round of 64 Thursday, averaged 254.88 over the final seven games of qualifying to finish with a 3,402 14-game pinfall to earn the top seed for match play in the 2008 Lumber Liquidators Earl Anthony Medford Classic at Lava Lanes.
This week marks just the third time in his career Ciminelli has advanced to the Round of 64 through the TQR, but every time he’s been there he’s made a splash. Two years ago he finished ninth in the GEICO Classic in Cheektowaga, N.Y., as an amateur and earlier this season he finished 11th in the Lumber Liquidators Championship in Baltimore.
On Thursday, Ciminelli was eighth after the first seven-game block, but was a machine in the second block, shooting five consecutive games of 255 or better in the middle of the block including a 277 in game 13 which pushed him past Williams for the first time.
“It was in the back of my mind the whole time I was gaining on him,” Ciminelli said of catching the PBA Hall of Famer. “I set a little goal for myself to catch him just to keep myself focused. I didn’t think I would catch him since Walter Ray throws so many strikes, but I guess every dog has its day.”
Ciminelli (Cheektowaga, N.Y.) will face No. 32 Troy Wollenbecker (Miami) in Friday’s Round of 32. Wollenbecker fired a 229 in the final game to take the final spot in match play by just seven pins over Ritchie Allen.
Williams (Ocala, Fla.) finished second with 3,367 and will face No. 31 Doug Kent, the 2006-07 PBA Player of the Year. The two have gone in opposite directions this season as Williams has won two titles and leads the 2007-08 PBA Player of the Year race while Kent is looking to make his first championship round appearance of the season.
Rhino Page (Topeka, Kan.), who qualified through Wednesday’s Tour Qualifying Round for the seventh time in nine tries this season, finished third with 3,328 and will face No. 30 Stevie Weber. Page has made history this season, becoming the first qualifier to advance to two championship rounds, including a second-place finish to PBA Hall of Famer Parker Bohn III in the Spartanburg Classic. Bohn finished right behind Page in fourth with 3,300 and will face No. 29 Steve Jaros.
In a rematch of last week’s ConstructionJobs.com Championship title match, No. 7 Patrick Allen will face No. 26 Tommy Jones. Last Sunday, Jones defeated the 10-time titlist Allen to win his 11th career title.
Defending champion Sean Rash finished ninth with 3,137 and will face No. 24 Michael Haugen Jr.
Single elimination match play gets underway Friday at 9 a.m. PST with the Round of 32, followed by the Round of 16 at 2 p.m. and the Round of 8 at 7 p.m. The final four bowlers will advance to Sunday’s live ESPN-televised championship round, which gets underway at 10 a.m. PST. The winner will take home $25,000 and an exemption for the 2008-09 season.
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