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PBA stars rise to top in FireLake PBA Tournament of Champions


Pending the final eight qualifying games in the 52nd FireLake Professional Bowlers Association Tournament of Champions Saturday morning, Sunday’s live ESPN finals are setting up to become an instant classic.

After a string of six consecutive major championships won by players 25 or younger, Australian two-handed star Jason Belmonte (right), 33, ended the streak last week when he won the Barbasol PBA Players Championship for his seven career major title.

In Shawnee, players at the head of the pack following Friday’s fourth qualifying round were a group of PBA superstars including emerging star EJ Tackett (pictured left and above) of Huntington, Ind., 24, PBA’s 2016 GEICO Chris Schenkel PBA Player of the Year and winner of the 2016 PBA World Championship.

Tackett averaged 239.97 for his first 31 games for 7,439 pins and a 58-pin lead over 38-year-old 18-time PBA Tour winner Tommy Jones of Simpsonville, S.C., the 2007 TOC champion, who toppled 7,381pins.

Also in the thick of the race for Sunday’s finalists were 52-year-old Norm Duke (left; 7,377), who ranks third on the list of all-time PBA Tour title winners (38): 54-year-old Pete Weber (right; 7,377), a 37-time PBA Tour title winner and co-holder of the record for most major titles (10) with the late Earl Anthony and European star Dom Barrett (7,311) of England.

Also in the mix for Sunday’s 1 p.m. ET stepladder finals, which will be held on specially-constructed pair of lanes in FireLake Arena, are 2010 PBA World Champion Tom Smallwood; 2015 PBA Rookie of the Year Marshall Kent; 2016 TOC top qualifier Mitch Beasley, 38, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran; and 11-time Tour titlist Sean Rash, the 2012 TOC winner.

The top 16 players after 31 games will bowl a final eight-game qualifying round Saturday at 10 a.m. ET to determine the top five for Sunday’s live ESPN finals at 1 p.m. ET.

Fans can follow scoring as it happens on pba.com’s Live Scoring feature. All qualifying rounds also are covered live on PBA’s Xtra Frame online video streaming service. For subscription information, click here. The live stepladder finals will air on ESPN Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, and will be live streamed simultaneously on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.

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52nd PBA FireLake Tournament of Champions – Fourth Round Standings

Players with position, hometown and 31-game total; w-denotes woman

1, EJ Tackett, Huntington, Ind., 7,439
2, Tommy Jones, Simpsonville, S.C., 7,381
3, Norm Duke, Clermont, Fla., 7,377
4, Pete Weber, St. Ann, Mo., 7,337
5, Dom Barrett, England, 7,311, $100
6, Tom Smallwood, Saginaw, Mich., 7,259
7, Marshall Kent, Yakima, Wash., 7,254
8, Mitch Beasley, Clarksville, Tenn., 7,198
9, Sean Rash, Montgomery, Ill., 7,183
10, Stuart Williams, England, 7,179
11, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 7,169
12, Anthony Simonsen, Austin, Texas, 7,159
13, BJ Moore III, Greensburg, Pa., 7,152
14, Anthony Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 7,139
15, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 7,097
16, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 7,095

Other Cashers (after 31 games):
17, Brad Miller, Maryland Heights, Mo., 7,084, $2,700
18, Jason Sterner, Rockledge, Fla., 7,058, $2,600
19, Bill O’Neill, Langhorne, Pa., 7,054, $2,600
20, Chris Loschetter, Avon, Ohio, 7,043, $2,400
21, Scott Newell, Deland, Fla., 7,012, $2,300
22, Matthew O’Grady, Rahway, N.J., 7,007, $2,200
23, Sean Lavery-Spahr, Pasadena, Texas, 6,986, $2,100
24, Osku Palermaa, Finland, 6,844, $2,000

Missed Cut (after 23 games):
25, Cameron Weier, Tacoma, Wash., 5,206
26, Thomas Larsen, Denmark, 5,200
27, AJ Johnson, Oswego, Ill., 5,197
28, Rhino Page, Orlando, Fla., 5,183
29, Dino Castillo, Highland Village, Texas, 5,181
30, Francois Lavoie, Canada, 5,179
31, DJ Archer, Friendswood, Texas, 5,176
32, Ronnie Sparks Jr., Redford, Mich., 5,172
33, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 5,161
34, Bryan Goebel, Shawnee, Kan., 5,121
35, Dick Allen, Columbia, S.C., 5,108
36, Bryon Smith, Roseburg, Ore., 5,107
37, Andres Gomez, Colombia, 5,087
38, Ronnie Russell, Marion, Ind., 5,085
39, Josh Blanchard, Mesa, Ariz, 5,079
40, Anthony Pepe, Elmhurst, N.Y., 5,060
41, Jakob Butturff, Tempe, Ariz., 5,057, $100
42, Greg Ostrander, Freehold, N.J., 5,052
43, Parker Bohn III, Jackson, N.J., 5,049
44, Darren Tang, San Francisco, 5,046
45 (tie), Dave Wodka, Beavercreek, Ohio, and Aaron Lorincz, Belleville, Mich., 5,029
47, Jake Peters, Henderson, Nev., 5,001
48, Tom Hess, Urbandale, Iowa, 4,992
49, Ryan Shafer, Horseheads, N.Y., 4,978
50, Mike Bailey, Irving, Texas, 4,966
51, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Oxford, Fla., 4,948
52, Kyle Troup, Taylorsville, N.C., 4,947
53 (tie), Graham Fach, Canada, and Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 4,944
55, Blake Demore, Springfield, Mo., 4,934
56, Shawn Maldonado, Houston, 4,913
57 (tie), Paul Brewbaker II, Midwest City, Okla., and Connor Pickford, Plano, Texas, 4,897
59, Jesper Svensson, Sweden, 4,885
60, w-Kelly Kulick, Union, N.J., 4,881
61, Ryan Ciminelli, Cheektowaga, N.Y., 4,879
62, w-Clara Guerrero, Colombia, 4,845
63, Mike Wolfe, New Albany, Ind., 4,835
64, Mike Scroggins, Amarillo, Texas, 4,817
65, Gary Faulkner Jr., Memphis, Tenn., 4,664
66, Mike Edwards, Tulsa, Okla., withdrew

300 games (1) – Bill O’Neill, EJ Tackett, Pete Weber

Herbert Bickel

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