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Ronnie Russell first pick in 2017 PBA League Draft


2015PBARonnieRussellThe Professional Bowlers Association League took its final steps in preparation for the 2017 season Wednesday when the league’s eight team managers got together at the South Point Bowling Plaza to draft the final two players to complete their five-player rosters.

2016WBTThailandOskuPalermaaSelecting first in the “serpentine” draft, Philadelphia Hitmen manager Tim Mack selected Ronnie Russell (left) of Marion, Ind. L.A. X manager Andrew Cain then selected Finland’s Osku Palermaa. And so the draft went until the 16th and final player selected as the draft came back to the Hitmen was Dave Wodka, a member of the 2016 Philadelphia roster.

“That was very difficult,” Couch said of making the final pick. “There were a lot of highly capable players left on the board, but it came down to my team wanting a guy they were very comfortable bowling with, and that was it.”

2015PBAWSOBRhinoPage2015PBABJMooreThe defending champion Dallas Strikers, making the eighth and ninth selections, picked Rhino Page (left) and BJ Moore (right), respectively. Moore was a member of the 2016 Strikers team, but fifth member Shawn Maldonado was taken earlier in the first round by the Silver Lake Atom Splitters.

“I was hoping I could keep last year’s team together,” Strikers’ player-manager Norm Duke said, “but Maldonado was gone before I could pick him.’

2011PBACommissionerTomClark“One of the biggest problems with the PBA League and the draft is that we have so many great players and only a limited number of roster spots available,” PBA CEO and Commissioner Tom Clark (right) said.

All eight teams were given the opportunity to protect three players from their 2016 rosters prior to the draft.

Among the 40 players selected for 2017 were two women, Professional Women’s Bowling Association champions Liz Johnson (Portland Lumberjacks) and Danielle McEwan (NYC WTT KingPins).

The PBA League will return to the newly-reconstructed Bayside Bowl in Portland, Maine, in April for its fifth season of competition. All matches in pursuit of the Elias Cup will be televised on ESPN.

The 2017 rosters, including the respective team managers and pending any trades that might be made, will be:

  • Dallas Strikers (player-manager Norm Duke): Norm Duke, Tommy Jones, Bill O’Neill, Rhino Page, B.J. Moore.
  • NYC WTT KingPins (manager Carolyn Dorin-Ballard): Pete Weber, Marshall Kent, John Szczerbinski, Danielle McEwan, Sam Cooley.

  • Motown Muscle (manager Del Ballard Jr.): E.J. Tackett, Anthony Simonsen, Josh Blanchard, Francois Lavoie, Dick Allen.

  • Portland Lumberjacks (manager Tim Mack): Wes Malott, Ryan Ciminelli, Liz Johnson, Kyle Troup, Bryon Smith.

  • Silver Lake Atom Splitters (manager Mark Baker): Chris Barnes, Tom Daugherty, Jesper Svensson, Shawn Maldonado, D.J. Archer.

  • Brooklyn Styles (manager Johnny Petraglia): Sean Rash, Parker Bohn III, Walter Ray Williams Jr., Jason Sterner, Jon Van Hees.

  • L.A. X (manager Andrew Cain): Jason Belmonte, Stuart Williams, Martin Larsen, Osku Palermaa, Jakob Butturff.

  • Philadelphia Hitmen (manager Jason Couch): Dom Barrett; Tom Smallwood; Chris Loschetter, Ronnie Russell, Dave Wodka.

2016PBALeagueLogoThe PBA League draft was covered live by PBA’s Xtra Frame online video-streaming service and was hosted by South Point Bowling Plaza in Las Vegas.

PBA League competition will begin with a new seven-game round-robin team competition on April 13 to determine the seeding for the ESPN television finals, which will be contested April 15-16. ESPN will air the two quarterfinal rounds of PBA League competition on April 23 and 30, the semifinals on May 7, and the Elias Cup finals on May 14.

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Herbert Bickel

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