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Mike Dias earns no. 1 seed for finals at 2018 Super Senior Classic

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Mike Dias of Lafayette, Colorado, doesn’t always keep tabs on the leaderboard, but he knew Saturday at the Sam’s Town Bowling Center that he was in a must-strike situation, with the top seed for the finals of the 2018 Super Senior Classic on the line.

Despite losing his position-round match to defending champion Ron Mohr of North Las Vegas, Nevada, Dias started his final frame with the strike he needed, helping him edge Professional Bowlers Association Hall of Famer Mark Williams of Beaumont, Texas, for the No. 1 spot in Sunday’s championship stepladder, which will be broadcast live on BowlTV at 2 p.m. Eastern.

Featured photo from left: Mike Dias and Mark Williams.

The unique format at the Super Senior Classic had the final 12 players split into two six-player groups for six games of round-robin match play. The leader in each group, based on total pinfall for 24 games, including 30 bonus pins for each win in match play, earned an automatic spot in the finals.

Dias finished atop the Group B standings with a 5,718 pinfall total, while Williams (right) topped Group A with 5,713 to claim the No. 2 spot. Williams finished match play with a 258-234 win against Skip Pavone of San Jose, California, and Dias fell to Mohr, 278-213.

“I knew Mark could shoot enough to force me to at least get the first strike in the 10th,” said Dias, a two-time PBA50 champion. “I hadn’t done the math exactly, but I knew I needed at least the first one. I tried to stay focused and make a good shot. Fortunately, it worked out well.”

The players who finished second, third and fourth in each group will return to the lanes at Sam’s Town on Sunday morning to fight through simultaneous group stepladders, with the winner of each also advancing to the championship round, where they will meet in the first match.

The group stepladders will take place at noon Eastern, and the battle for the 2018 Super Senior Classic trophy and $8,500 top prize closely will follow.

The opening match of the Group A stepladder will feature United States Bowling Congress Hall of Famer Harry Sullins (left) of Chesterfield, Michigan (No.3), against Ben Hoefs of Mobile, Alabama (No. 4). The winner will advance to meet Skip Pavone. Heading into the position round Saturday, only nine pins separated fourth and sixth place in the Group A standings.

Action in the Group B stepladder will begin with No. 3 Patrick Padden of Grand Lake, Colorado, against No. 4 Warren Nelson of Hemet, California, and the victor will meet Ron Mohr (right), who is looking for a third consecutive appearance in the title match.

The last spot in the Group B stepladder came down to the final frame, too. After Padden defeated Nelson in their position-round match, Nick Morgan of Sacramento, California, could’ve passed Nelson with a win over Chris Keane of Cape Coral, Florida. Morgan left a 10 pin to start his last frame and lost the game, 259-258, falling 19 pins short.

A first-time participant at the Super Senior Classic, Dias entered Saturday’s Cashers’ Round as the overall leader but had fallen to fourth place by the conclusion of the day’s first six games. He rallied in match play, averaging more than 239 on the way to a 4-2 record and the top seed. Now, the 61-year-old left-hander is one win away from the 2018 title.

“I still can’t get ahead of myself,” Dias said. “Nothing’s in your hand until it’s done. I’m going to be patient and take it one shot at a time tomorrow. I’ll keep doing the same things I’ve been doing all week – just try to remain calm and make as many good shots as I can.”

Williams, a right-hander who turned 60 this year, also is making his debut at the Super Senior Classic. He turned in the highest six-game block of match play, a 1,448 effort that ended with games of 279 and 258, to help him surge past Pavone, who had been in control for most of the day.

Already a seven-time PBA Tour champion and three-time PBA50 winner, Williams noted that the key to his success Saturday was figuring out a way to conquer the fresh 41-foot oil pattern, something he accomplished by experimenting with different surfaces.

While he’s now more comfortable, he believes a little more traffic during the stepladder could work to his advantage in his quest for his first over-60 title.

“It’s the first event I’ve bowled being over 60, and it would be nice to win one, but I’ve got a long way to go,” said Williams, who won the Mark Williams. “The good thing is, I’m guaranteed at least third place, and that’s a nice start to any tournament. Hopefully, we get enough practice time to get a good shot on the lanes. The more time we have to get the shot grooved in, the better chance I’ll have.”

So far, the finals will include one left-hander (Dias) and one right-hander (Williams). Among the Group A competitors, Pavone is left-handed, and Sullins and Hoefs both are right-handed. In Group B, Padden is a southpaw, and Mohr and Nelson are right-handed.

The 2018 Super Senior Classic began with 184 competitors, USBC members age 60 and older, who all bowled 12 games over two days, before the field was cut to the top 46 for the six-game Cashers’ Round.

Total pinfall for 18 games then determined the 12 bowlers who advanced to match play. The odd-numbered qualifiers became Group A, and the even-numbered players went into Group B.

For the complete results, click here

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Herbert Bickel

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