Twenty-two years, a crushed wrist, debilitating hip and back injuries and a whirlwind marriage later, Mitch Beasley
won the PBA Chameleon Championship presented by HotelPlanner.com for his first PBA Tour title.
The Chameleon Championship, the second of four PBA animal pattern championships conducted during the GEICO PBA World Series of Bowling VIII, presented by Silver Legacy Resort & Casino, at Reno’s National Bowling Stadium, aired Sunday on ESPN.
Pictured above from left, PBA CEO-Commissioner Tom Clark, PBA Chameleon champion Mitch Beasley and Ebonite International Sales manager Rich Hanson
Beasley (left), at age 48, held off A.J. Johnson of Oswego, Ill., 246-237, for a title he began chasing in the early 1980s when he was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force.
After converting a 9 pin in the second frame, he reeled off seven consecutive strikes and survived a pocket 7-10 split in the ninth frame to defeat Johnson, who was two years old when Beasley bowled his first PBA event.
“It’s been a great road,” Beasley said with a delayed grin. “I was late into bowling, late to the Tour. I just got better with age, like fine wine.”
The title match held almost as much drama as the four-player elimination battle that started the telecast, culling the field to the top two scorers for the finale.
In the elimination match, Beasley finished with four strikes to lead the group with a 239. Johnson (left) put together a late string of six strikes, adding a nine-count on his fill ball for 236.
Denmark’s Thomas Larsen (right), a two-time PBA International-World Bowling Tour winner, appeared a lock for the final match, but left four pins standing on his final shot for a 235. And veteran PBA Central Regional competitor Patrick Dombrowski (below left) of Parma, Ohio, struggled to a 182 in his national television debut.
In the championship match, Beasley was a man on a mission.
“I began to doubt I’d ever win because of the injuries,” he said. “I fell off a ladder eight years ago and shattered my wrist, which cost me a year. Then I had to throw 13 pounds at the World Series that year (and cashed in three out of five events). Then I was out of bowling for two-and-a-half years with hip and back injuries.
“I saw nine different specialists. I had four tell me to do surgery, two said don’t, but I met a great surgeon who does reconstruction for people who have had a crushed pelvis in a car accident, and he said he knew exactly what my problem was.
He did scans and MRIs, and found the issue and told me not to do fusion surgery because it would destroy my other hip and continue to destroy my back. So with lots of physical therapy and rest, it finally started to get better.”
Beasley, shortly after his retirement from 20 years of service with the Air Force, returned to bowling in 2014 and won a PBA “super” regional in Lubbock, Texas. Then he traveled to the PBA World Series of Bowling where he met Ingelimar Contreras, a three-time Venezuela Woman Bowler of the Year, and they got married a month later. And now he has a great support system.
“I’ve kept on learning along the way,” Beasley (right) added. “The more you learn, the better you get.
“I expected to win. If you expect not to win, you won’t win. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve put in the time and effort. I fixed things that needed to be fixed. Now I’m looking for four or five more wins before I get to the (PBA50 Tour) in a couple of years.
The PBA’s World Series animal pattern championships continue with a Christmas Day doubleheader – the Scorpion Championship presented by Reno Tahoe USA and the Shark Championship – at 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. ET, respectively.
For fans who may have missed ESPN’s live coverage of the PBA World Championship on Dec. 11, ESPN will present an encore telecast of the PBA’s final major championship of 2016 on New Year’s Day at 1 p.m. ET.
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From left, A.J. Johnson, Mitch Beasley, Thomas Larsen and Patrick Dombrowski.
2015 PBA Chameleon Championship Finals
National Bowling Stadium in Reno, Nev., USA (Nov. 29 – Dec. 10, 2016), aired on ESPN on Saturday, Dec. 24.
1. Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., $20,000
2. A.J. Johnson, Oswego, Ill., $10,000
3. Thomas Larsen, Denmark, $5,000
4. Patrick Dombrowski, Parma, Ohio, $5,000
Elimination Match (top two scores advanced):
Beasley 239, Johnson 236, Larsen 235, Dombrowski 182.
Championship: Beasley def. Johnson, 246-237.