Indiana’s Tackett Wins PBA Rookie of the Year Honors; Belmonte, Rash, Weber are Player of Year Finalists

by Bill Vint January 14, 2014 06:27

SEATTLE – E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., has been selected as 2012-13 Harry Golden PBA Rookie of the Year by an overwhelming margin in voting by PBA members and veteran bowling journalists, PBA Commissioner Tom Clark also announced today.

Clark also announced that Australia’s Jason Belmonte, Sean Rash of Montgomery, Ill., and 51-year-old PBA Hall of Famer Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., are the three leading vote-getters in the 2012-13 Professional Bowlers Association Player of the Year competition. The winner will be announced live on PBA’s online bowling channel, Xtra Frame, Friday at 5 p.m. ET from Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich., where the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions gets underway on Saturday.

The end-of-season awards announcements culminate an expanded 14-month campaign that began in November 2012 and ended Dec. 31, 2013, as the PBA returned to a traditional calendar year season that began on Jan. 1.

Tackett, a 21-year-old two-time Junior Team USA and one-time adult Team USA member, was thrilled with his award.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I joined a pretty good list of guys, a bunch of hall of famers and future hall of famers, so I’m in pretty good company.”

Tackett, who left Indiana-Purdue at Fort Wayne to begin his PBA Tour career in time for the 2013 PBA Winter Swing in Detroit, was the overwhelming choice over Shawn Maldonado, Houston; Craig Nidiffer, Trenton, Mich.; Mik Stampe, Denmark, and Bryan Viator, Friendswood, Texas. Tackett’s abbreviated season included a fourth-place finish in the Wolf Open during the 2013 PBA Summer Swing, a sixth-place finish in the U.S. Open and a third-place finish in the end-of-season Round1 Japan Cup, which he entered as a non-invited TQR competitor.

Tackett, who ironically was attending IPFW on a golf scholarship, said he wasn’t ready to pursue his college education.

“I was there for a year and a half, but I just really got unhappy with what I was doing,” he said “I had no desire to be in school, and it reflected on my school work, so I decided to stop dragging it out and try my hand at the Tour.”

He made his PBA Tour debut during the Winter Swing in Detroit where he cashed in three of four events. He made his first television appearance in the Wolf Open in Milwaukee, finishing fourth. PBA World Series of Bowling V was “a little disappointing,” he said. “I didn’t make a show after being inside the cut three different times, but I had three top 10s, so it wasn’t terrible.

“The best tournament I’ve had was in Japan, and the second best was sixth in the U.S. Open,” he said. “That was personally a better tournament than finishing fourth in the Wolf Open.”

Tackett’s next appearance will be in the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions, which gets underway Saturday at Thunderbowl Lanes in Allen Park, Mich. He earned his way into the TOC by winning a PBA Central Region title in May in Ohio.

And his next goal? “A title, for sure,” he said.

All three of the leading contenders for the Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year award, listed in alphabetical order, had great seasons in one of the closest competitions in years. Player of the Year voting began with 13 candidates, all of whom met minimum requirements for consideration based upon PBA rules. Others on the original ballot included Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas; Dom Barrett, England; Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J.; Mike Fagan, Fort Worth, Texas; Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C.; Mika Koivuniemi, Finland-Hartland, Mich.; Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio; Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas; Scott Norton, Mission Viejo, Calif., and Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa.

Belmonte hopes to join Venezuela’s Amleto Monacelli and Finland’s Mika Koivuniemi as the third foreign-born player to win the PBA’s highest annual competition honor. He also would be the first two-handed player to win the award.

Belmonte’s 2012-13 season produced two titles, including the USBC Masters – his first major – and runner-up finishes in three other major championships: the 2012 PBA World Championship, U.S. Open and 2013 PBA Tournament of Champions. He won the George Young High Average Award, scoring at a 228.81 pace over 422 games, and the Harry Smith Point Leader Award with 238,903 points. The only major statistical category he didn’t win was earnings, where his $186,465 total ranked third behind Rash’s $248,317 and Koivuniemi’s $227,851.

Rash, the 2011-12 Player of the Year, won two PBA International Tour titles in Kuwait and Thailand, and made TV shows in the 2012 and ’13 PBA World Championships and the 2013 TOC. In addition to leading the earnings list, Rash finished third in average and competition points.

Weber, a 37-time PBA Tour champion who has never won Player of the Year, had one of the best years of his career as he entered the PBA50 Tour ranks. In addition to winning the 2013 Tournament of Champions for his record-tying 10th career major, Weber finished third in the 2013 U.S. Open (an event he has won a record five times) and third in the 2013 PBA World Championship.

In addition to the announcement of the 2012-13 PBA Player of the Year on Xtra Frame Friday, Tackett, Tony Reyes Community Service Award winner Parker Bohn III and the 2012-13 PBA Steve Nagy Sportsmanship Award winner will be introduced. The special Xtra Frame webcast will kick off extended coverage of the qualifying and match play rounds of the Barbasol PBA Tournament of Champions Saturday through Tuesday, Jan. 21.

To subscribe to Xtra Frame, visit pba.com and click on the Xtra Frame tab. Subscriptions are available for $7.99 for one month or $64.99 for a full year.

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