Blanchard and Larsen Win Top PBA Honors

by Jerry Schneider May 16, 2012 10:59

SEATTLE – Arizona's Josh Blanchard, a former Wichita State University All-American, is the 2011-12 PBA Harry Golden Rookie of the Year and Sweden's Martin Larsen the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner, the Professional Bowlers Association announced Wednesday.

PBA Commissioner Tom Clark also announced that Australia’s Jason Belmonte, Mike Fagan of Dallas and Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., are the finalists for the 2011-12 Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award. One of the most hotly contested Player of the Year races will come to an end at noon ET on Monday, May 28, when this year’s winner will be announced in a special ceremony webcast live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online bowling channel from 10pin bowling lounge in Chicago.

The 24-year-old Blanchard from Gilbert, Ariz., got his PBA career off to a fast start when he won a PBA West Region Non-Champions tournament for his first title in the first event he entered as a member. In his first year as a PBA Tour player, he dominated rookie stats, cashing in 10 of 13 events (the next closest rookie cashed in only two events) while leading all rookies in average, points and earnings. His best finish was third in the PBA Cheetah Open presented by Ebonite.

“The successes and failures I learned this season have taught me what I need to know not to just be competitive but to compete for wins,” said Blanchard, who made one other championship round appearance and gained some unexpected notoriety when he fell during the ESPN telecast of the PBA World Championship Mike Aulby Division finals. “This year my mindset was to bowl well enough to make cuts and match play rounds.  After my experience this season I believe I have the confidence where now my mindset will be bowl to win.

"I achieved way more than I expected,” said Blanchard, who was a runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year award. “I mainly joined (the PBA) to see how good my skills were and if I could compete. Rookie of the Year really didn't enter into my mind until I had some good finishes."

Larsen, a veteran member of Team Sweden at age 32, earned the right to bowl as an “exempt” PBA player during the 2011-12 season after two quality seasons as a part-time international player. The six-time European Bowling Tour titlist finished third in the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs presented by Hammer and fifth in the PBA Cheetah Open presented by Ebonite.

“Wow, it’s an honor to be included in the list of some very worthy bowlers,” Larsen said. “Some guys back home will say they’re not surprised I got the award, but I am. This year I’m the “nice” bowler of the year, maybe next year I can be Bowler of the Year.”

Larsen joins 2009-10 winner George Lambert IV of Canada as the only two international players ever to win the Nagy Award.

Other players who received Nagy Award votes were Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa; Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J.; two-time Nagy winner Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., and Scott Norton, Costa Mesa, Calif.

The Harry Golden Rookie of the Year award, named after the late PBA Tour Tournament Director, is voted on by the PBA membership and the Steve Nagy Award is determined by a vote of PBA Exempt players. Established in 1966, the Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award is named after the late PBA Hall of Famer who was one of 33 founding members of the PBA.

In the Player of the Year voting among the PBA membership and select veteran bowling writers, Belmonte, Fagan and Rash are the top three vote-getters.

Belmonte won three titles including the Elite Players Championship, had seven top-five finishes, finished third in average and second in both points and earnings. Belmonte also finished third in the U.S. Open and Tournament of Champions, fourth in the PBA World Championship and ninth in the USBC Masters.

Fagan qualified for TV shows in all four PBA Tour majors. He won the USBC Masters, finished second in the U.S. Open, fourth in the Tournament of Champions and 12th in the PBA World Championship. He also won an international PBA Tour title, the Brunswick Euro Challenge in Paris, France. Statistically, he was second in average and third in points and earnings.

Rash won PBA’s signature event, the Tournament of Champions. He led the Tour with eight top-five finishes, including third place in the PBA World Championship, and finished first in average, points and earnings. He also qualified for a record five consecutive TV finals during the World Series of Bowling.

Harry Golden Rookie of the Year Award Winners

2012 Josh Blanchard
2011 Scott Norton
2010 Anthony LaCaze
2009 Jason Belmonte
2008 Rhino Page
2007 Billy Oatman
2006 Bill O'Neill
2005 Not awarded
2004 Chris Johnson
2003 Brad Angelo
2002 Tommy Jones
2000 Joe Ciccone
1999 Paul Fleming
1998 Chris Barnes
1997 Anthony Lombardo
1996 C.K. Moore
1995 Billy Myers Jr.
1994 Tony Ament Jr.
1993 Mark Scroggins
1992 Jason Couch
1991 Ricky Ward
1990 Brad Kiszewski
1989 Steve Hoskins
1988 Rick Steelsmith
1987 Ryan Shafer
1986 Marc McDowell
1985 Tom Crites
1984 John Gant
1983 Toby Contreras
1982 Mike Steinbach
1981 Mark Fahy
1980 Pete Weber
1979 Mike Aulby
1978 Joseph Groskind
1977 Steve Martin
1976 Mike Berlin
1975 Guy Rowbury
1974 Cliff McNealy
1973 Steve Neff
1972 Tommy Hudson
1971 Tye Critchlow
1970 Denny Krick
1969 Larry Lichstein
1968 Bob McGregor
1967 Mike Durbin
1966 Bobby Cooper
1965 Jim Godman
1964 Jerry McCoy

Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award Winners

2012 Martin Larsen
2011 Jack Jurek
2010 George Lambert IV
2009 Ryan Shafer
2008 Riga Kalfas
2007 Richard Wolfe
2006 Jack Jurek
2005 Jason Queen
2004 Tim Criss
2003 Jason Queen
2002 Justin Hromek
2000 Justin Hromek
1999 Justin Hromek
1998 Tim Criss
Butch Soper
1997 Rick Steelsmith
1996 Curtis Odom
1995 Mike Aulby
1994 Mike Aulby
1993 Parker Bohn III
1992 Parker Bohn III
1991 Parker Bohn III
1990 Parker Bohn III
1989 Dave Husted
1988 Dave Husted
1987 Steve Martin
1986 Steve Martin
1985 Steve Martin
1984 Jim Pritts Jr.
1983 Rich Gradley
1982 Sam Zurich
1981 Tom Baker
1980 Tom Baker
1979 Alvin Lou
1978 Gil Silker
1977 Don Johnson
1976 Tommy Hudson
Les Schissler
Les Zikes
1975 Jim Frazier
1974 Gary Dickinson
1973 Gary Dickinson
Dick Ritger
1972 Gary Dickinson
1971 Mike Orlovsky
1970 Dick Ritger
Dave Soutar
John Guenther
1969 Ralph Engan
1968 Ralph Engan
1967 Johnny Guenther
1966 Johnny Guenther

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