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PBA’s Regional program heads into 49th season

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As the PBA celebrates its 60th anniversary season in 2018, the PBA Regional program – born in 1969 with the inaugural PBA Regional Players Championship at Kingpin Lanes in Cincinnati – heads into its 49th year of providing a proving ground for aspiring PBA Tour players as well as a closer-to-home, more affordable arena for bowlers who were unable to compete full-time on the PBA Tour.

Over the years, the PBA Regional program has cultivated its own set of stars. Some players who used the regional program to develop their skills, like PBA Hall of Famers Pete Weber (left), Walter Ray Williams Jr. and Mike Scroggins, became superstars.

Others – like Chris Warren (feature photo), Dale Traber (right) and Ross Packard – became highly successful at the regional levels. A few – like Harry Sullins (below left), Tom Baker and Ron Mohr – found the PBA50 regional program as a perfect outlet to extend their careers.

Since its inception, the PBA Regional program has conducted nearly 6,400 tournaments and awarded titles to just under 1,850 different players. As the regional program heads into the 2018 season, here are top 10 lists of players who have excelled in PBA’s regional competition.

The top 10 in combined standard and PBA50 regional titles is a tie between frequent PBA Midwest Region opponents, Dale Traber of Cedarburg, Wis., and Pete Weber of St. Ann, Mo., both with a total of 52 titles.

Weber and Chris Warren (right), a Texas native who found a new home in Grants Pass, Ore., are tied for most standard PBA Regional titles with 47. Harry Sullins, who hails from Chesterfield Township, Mich., leads the PBA50 Regional list with 22 titles.

During openings in the PBA Tour schedule, regional competition is abundant in all seven domestic PBA Regions: East, South, Central, Midwest, Southwest, West and Northwest.

Schedules and entry information can be found on pba.com, and a “frequently asked questions” for regional newcomers can be found under the “FAQs” tab on pba.com.

Career Standard and PBA50 Regional Titles
52 Dale Traber, Cedarburg, Wis.
(tie) Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.
51 Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore.
47 Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla.
44 Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas
43 Hugh Miller, Mercer Island, Wash.
42 Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill.
(tie) Ross Packard, San Jose, Calif.
(tie) Guppy Troup, Taylorsville, N.C.
40 Sam Zurich, Grant, Fla.

Career Standard Regional Titles
47 Chris Warren, Grants Pass, Ore.
(tie) Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo.
42 Steve Jaros, Yorkville, Ill.
40 Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas
39 Dale Traber, Cedarburg, Wis.
38 Sam Zurich, Grant, Fla.
33 Hugh Miller, Mercer Island, Fla.
(tie) Ross Packard, San Jose, Calif.
32 Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla.
30 Dennis Horan, Oakley, Calif.
(tie) Jeff Richgels, Madison, Wis.

Career PBA50 Regional Titles
22 Harry Sullins, Chesterfield Twp., Mich.
18 Tom Baker, King, N.C.
17 Ron Mohr, Las Vegas
(tie) George Pappas, Charlotte, N.C.
15 Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla.
14 Ron Winger, Henderson, Nev.
13 Tim Kauble, Marion, Ohio
(tie) Dale Traber, Cedarburg, Wis.
(tie) Guppy Troup, Taylorsville, N.C.
12 Kenny Parks, Hammond, Ind.

PBA’s “60 Most Memorable Moments” unveiling continues: 56 thru 60

The countdown to unveil the complete list of the PBA”s “60 most memorable moments” in its 60-year history continues, one a day, Monday through Friday, on PBA’s social media outlets. The top 10 moments were announced on PBA’s ESPN telecast of the Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic. Last week, “memorable moments” 60 through 56 were unveiled.

Here are those five moments as the countdown continues:

#56 – Pete Weber tied for sixth place on the all-time PBA Tour titles list by winning his 26th title in the 2001 Great Lakes Classic. During that telecast, Weber also rolled a 299 in the semifinal match. It was one of the early telecasts under the “new” PBA ownership.

#57 – Sean Rash became the first player to bowl two nationally-televised 300 games in PBA Tour competition in the 2015 TOC semifinal match. His first came in the PBA Wolf Open in Shawnee, Okla., in 2014.

#58 – The PBA Lane Maintenance program was created midway through the 1971 season.

#59 – Bob Vespi and Chris Warren staged a tense duel in the 1991 Florida Open title match with Warren throwing three strikes in the 10th to win, 211-208.

#60 – The Dallas Strikers recorded the PBA League’s first televised team Baker 300 game in 2016 at Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine.

To check on releases of subsequent “moments” as they are revealed, check the PBA Network: PBA on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ProfessionalBowlersAssociation) or Instagram (pbatour); subscribe to the PBA channel on YouTube (PBABowling); tweet along on Twitter (@pbatour), and on the web: https://www.pba.com/PBANetwork/MostMemorableMoments.

New Jersey “Bowler” wins 60th Anniversary “Challenge” Sweepestakes

John Ezekiel of Paulsboro, N.J., tried to out-score Go Bowling! PBA 60th Anniversary Classic champion Jakob Butturff‘s (left) 244 winning total 100 times, but it only took one score to win Concrete Software’s “PBA 60th Anniversary Classic Challenge” sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes invited PBA Bowling Challenge Mobile Game users to “bowl” as often as they wanted to try to beat Butturff’s winning score for a chance to win a bowling pin signed by the winner plus 5,000 Gold Pins.

Ezekiel was one of 15,255 players who bowled a total of 48,749 games in the contest, including one player who tried 339 times.

PBA Hall of Famer Len Nicholson’s new book now available

As PBA Director of Lane Maintenance beginning in the 1970s, PBA Hall of Famer Len Nicholson experienced the PBA Tour from a unique perspective.

Many of his personal insights involving some of the sport’s greatest stars are now available in his new book, “My Memories and Stories of The PBA Hall of Famers.” The book is available for $25. To order, send a note to Nicholson at [email protected] for details.

PBA Regional Update: Ricky Schissler perfect in Colorado victory

Ricky Schissler (left) of Brighton, Colo., rolled a perfect game to defeat 2016 USBC Masters champion Anthony Simonsen of Austin, Texas, in the final match of the sixth annual PBA Lakewood Storm Southwest Super Regional, presented by New American Funding, at Holiday Lanes in Lakewood, Colo., on Sunday.

Schissler, a PBA member since 1988, thrilled his hometown fans with a 300-215 victory over Simonsen to complete a challenging climb to his first title in standard PBA regional competition. The 53-year-old Schissler won his only previous PBA title last October in a PBA50 regional in Junction City, Kan. His first title in standard regional competition included a $5,000 prize.

After qualifying in 12th place, Schissler defeated amateur Michael Smith from Centennial, Colo., 2-0, in a best-of-three-game Round of 16 match. In the Round of 12, he escaped with a 2-0 victory over Canada’s Francois Lavoie, PBA’s 2016 Rookie of the Year.

In the Round of 8, Schissler put away 2016 PBA Player of the Year E.J. Tackett of Huntington, Ind., 2-0, which moved him into the semifinal round where he eliminated Michael Steele of Abilene, Texas, 215-180.

Simonsen, who turned 21 in January, earned his berth in the title match by eliminating Anthony Coats of Pflugerville, Texas, 2-1, in the Round of 8, and defeating PBA Hall of Famer Norm Duke of Clermont, Fla., 218-180, in his semifinal match.

Josh Blanchard (right) of Mesa, Ariz., defeated Darren Tang of San Francisco, 242-208, to win the PBA West Region’s Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort Championship at Gold Country Lanes in Sutter Creek, Calif., on Sunday for his ninth PBA Regional title and a $2,300 first prize.

In the semifinal round, Blanchard eliminated Michael Haugen Jr. of Phoenix, 269-246, and Tang defeated PJ Haggerty of Roseville, Calif., 267-229, to set up the championship match.

Behind a 12-0 match play record, Harry Sullins of Chesterfield Twp., Mich. defeated Dean Billings of Rootstown, Ohio by 87 pins to win the PBA50 Strike Zone Lanes Central Classic presented by Brunswick at Strike Zone Lanes in Canton, Ohio, Sunday, and to pick up a $1,500 first prize and his 22nd career PBA50 Regional title.

The March 9-11 PBA Regional weekend calendar includes the PBA50 Fayetteville South Open at Lafayette Lanes in Fayetteville, N.C.; the Colorado Springs Southwest Super Regional at Harmony Bowl in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Sands Regency tripleheader including the West/Northwest Winter Challenge presented by Hammer, West/Northwest Winter Classic presented by Ebonite and the PBA50 Winter Classic presented by Track – all at the National Bowling Stadium in Reno.

A busy weekend is on tap for PBA Regional competitors over the March 16-18 weekend when the schedule includes the Trumbull County Tourism Bureau Central/East Open presented by Radical at Bell-Wick Bowl in Hubbard, Ohio; the PBA50 Showtime Lanes Midwest/Central Open in Virden, Ill.; the Jac’s Lanes Valdosta South Open in Valdosta, Ga., and the Odessa Southwest Open at Astro Bowl in Odessa, Texas.<

PBA’s March 23-25 regional tournament schedule includes the PBA50 Rossi Lanes Open in Elmira, N.Y.; the PBA50 Monte Skeels Allstate Midwest/Central Open at Liberty Lanes in Carpentersville, Ill.. and the Caveman Bowl Northwest/West Open presented by DV8 in Grants Pass, Ore.

Closing out the March PBA Regional schedule will be the Copperfield Bowl Southwest Challenge for non-title winners over the March 30-April 1 weekend in Houston, Texas.

For complete PBA Regional schedules, rules and entry information, click here to find the event(s) in your area.

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Herbert Bickel

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