WAUKESHA, Wis. – Former Wichita State University teammates Josh Blanchard of Gilbert, Ariz., and Jake Peters of Decatur, Ill., claimed the top two positions for the Professional Bowlers Association’s Lucas Oil Badger Open stepladder finals Tuesday night at AMF Waukesha.
Blanchard, the 2011-12 PBA Rookie of the Year, won seven of his eight matches Tuesday night to post a 26-game total of 6,426 pins, clinching the top berth in the June 1 Badger Open stepladder finals by 10 pins over Peters. Peters, who started the day in first place, plunged to 18th after the morning match play round, but surged back into contention by also winning seven of his final eight matches for a 6,416 total.
Blanchard and Peters, who won a pair of Intercollegiate Men’s Team Championships with Wichita State in 2009 and 2010, are both trying for their first PBA Tour titles.
Saginaw (Mich.) Valley State collegiate bowler Aaron Lorincz of Belleville, Mich., the 2013 Intercollegiate Singles Champion, qualified third with 6,327 pins. Rounding out the stepladder finals in the first of four GEICO PBA Summer Swing tournaments will be Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix and Kurt Pilon of Warren, Mich.
“I told my wife last week I thought I could be really strong on this pattern,” Blanchard said of the 52-foot Badger lane condition, the longest oil pattern the PBA Tour has ever used. “I really felt like I could win on it. I haven’t won yet, but… The longer we went tonight, the stronger I got. I could have gone another eight games.”
Blanchard said the most valuable lesson he has learned in his first full year as a PBA Tour player has been “creating loft in my game. It worked tonight. I was able to keep my ball straighter and carry better, and that was the difference.”
Peters, also a second-year PBA Tour player, had never finished higher than 19th place, but despite his roller coaster performance, he was elated.
His plunge in the standings “was really exhausting,” he said, “but it might have really helped because after the way I bowled in the morning, I had nothing to lose and I made some really aggressive moves I probably wouldn’t have made had I not bowled so bad.
“As bad as I bowled in the morning, I was only 160 pins out of the TV show, and my fiancé and ball reps told me to just hang in there and see what happens. So I never gave up.”
Lorincz. 23, was surprised to make the TV finals, but said, “You practice and practice to get to this moment and to get here is awesome. I’ve been running out shots with these guys since I was 10 years old.”
Making the CBS Sports Network finals on June 1, however, will disrupt his plans.
“I’m scheduled to bowl (the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships in Reno, Nev.) on June 1,” he said. “I think I’m going to have nine unhappy teammates.”
The GEICO PBA Summer Swing presented by Lucas Oil now moves to AMF West in Milwaukee for the Lucas Oil Wolf Open with practice and pro-ams scheduled for Wednesday, two five-game qualifying rounds Thursday and two eight-game match play rounds Friday. The Lucas Oil Bear Open follows Sunday through Tuesday at AMF Bowlero, followed by the Lucas Oil Milwaukee Open May 29-30, also at AMF Bowlero. The Milwaukee Open will feature the top 28 qualifiers based on total pinfall after 30 qualifying games from the three animal pattern events.
Stepladder finals for all four tournaments, plus the GEICO Summer King of the Swing special event, will be taped over two days by the CBS Sports Network June 1-2 at Bowlero for airing on five consecutive Tuesdays at 7 p.m. ET beginning June 11. The Badger Open stepladder finals will be conducted on June 1 at 11 a.m., the Wolf Open at 2:30 p.m. and the Bear Open at 6 p.m. on June 1.
The GEICO Summer King of the Swing will include the four Summer Swing event champions plus the next highest points leader who hasn’t won a title. Those five will compete in a $25,000 stepladder final for a $10,000 first prize, concluding the summer series on June 2.
PBA BADGER OPEN
AMF Waukesha, Waukesha, Wis., Tuesday
Final Match Play Standings (after 26 games, including match play bonus pins; top five advance to stepladder finals on June 1 at 11 a.m. Central at AMF Bowlero)
1, Josh Blanchard, Gilbert, Ariz., 12-4, 6,426.
2, Jake Peters, Decatur, Ill., 10-6, 6,416.
3, Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich., 10-6, 6,327.
4, Michael Haugen Jr., Phoenix, 10-6, 6,319.
5, Kurt Pilon, Warren, Mich., 8-8, 6,294.
6, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 8-8, 6,262, $1,800.
7, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 11-5, 6,250, $1,700.
8, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 8-8, 6,237, $1,600.
9, Jason Sterner, McDonough, Ga., 10-6, 6,230, $1,550.
10, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 8-7-1, 6,214, $1,500.
11, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 8-7-1, 6,201, $1,450.
12, Nathan Bohr, Wichita, Kan., 9-7, 6,137, $1,400.
13, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 7-9, 6,131, $1,450.
14, Michael Machuga, Erie, Pa., 8-8, 6,114, $1,300.
15, Mike Fagan, Dallas, 6-10, 6,092, $1,250.
16, Mika Koivuniemi, Hartland, Mich., 8-8, 6,088, $1,200.
17, Anthony LaCaze, Melrose Park, Ill., 7-9, 6,078, $1,150.
18, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 5-11, 6,072, $1,100.
19, Jon VanHees, Charlestown, R.I., 9-7, 6,040, $1,050.
20, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 8-8, 6,025, $1,000.
21, Bill O'Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 6-10, 5,957, $950.
22, Patrick Girard, Canada, 4-12, 5,945, $900.
23, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 6-10, 5,924, $850.
24, Mike Dole, Loves Park, Ill., 5-11, 5,744, $800.
300 Games: Michael Haugen Jr., Bill O’Neill, Mika Koivuniemi.