Cumberland Times-News

October 2, 2013

Amateurs can pay to play against, with pros

Joe Mullenax
Cumberland Times-News

— This past week local bowlers put up some big scores. At White Oaks, youth bowler Kasey Sullivan rolled a big 712 series. High games for the men for the week were Matt Riley with a 300 game at the Bowler and Derek Yates with a 299 at Rainbow. High Series was Keefe Kaylor with a fantastic 819 featuring a 276 game at The Bowler. Bryan Jose had 757 with a 288 game at Rainbow and Billy Kyle rolled 748 with a 267 game. Autumn Grant’s 670 was the high women’s series this week.

Bowling is unique in that bowlers can compete with top pros in tournaments all across the country. With the exception of Aaron Laffey, few people locally can know what it’s like to face a major league batter. While golfers can play pro-ams “with” PGA players, they aren’t in the actual competition.

Bowlers can compete for thousands of dollars in prize money against the top pros and amateurs in the world without giving up their day job so to speak. This past weekend, 231 bowlers competed in the iGRIND Detroit Shootout. Any bowler willing to come up with the $300 entry fee was eligible to compete. Craig Nidiffer took home the $30,000 first prize beating a field that included Walter Ray Williams, Chris Loschetter and Bill O’Neill.

Local bowlers compete in both the Men’s and Women’s USBC nationals. This year in Reno, Nev., Chad Gable and Bobby Benton were members of the White Oaks Pro Shop team that finished 66th out of over 10,000 teams. On the Women’s side, Martii Robosson finished 57th in All Events in her division.

In the Maryland State tournament, Thomas Grant finished fourth in Handicap all events and teamed with Larry Gable for an eighth-place finish in Handicap doubles. Collin Tarbox finished fourth in Handicap singles and teamed with Gary Tarbox to finish 10th in Handicap Doubles. Kasey Sullivan led qualifying and won the stepladder finals in the 2013 Youth 600 Scratch Tournament. Local bowlers also compete in the West Virginia and Pennsylvania state tournaments each year.

A number of bowlers compete annually in the Petersen Classic in Schaumburg, Ill. Currently in its 103rd year, the Petersen is famous for incredibly difficult lane conditions. Some of its tricks include heavy pins in the racks, pins completely off spot, some lanes with no oil and some with oil for the entire 60 feet.

Chad Gable led a local contingent of bowlers with an 8-game score of 1546 good for 13th place. The 1546 is not a misprint. Chad averaged 193, roughly 40 pins per game under his league average and won over $1,000 in prize money. If you ever wondered how difficult lanes affect scoring, the Petersen is your answer. Butch Young won a side event at the Petersen by having the high game on lanes 11-12 with a 266.  He also finished fourth in the best four games out of eight side event.

In the September 28 Sports Magazine, I feared I would forget someone, and I did, in a very big way.

Through the 1980s and ’90s, one woman dominated area bowling like no female has before or since. Cindy Butler of Keyser was in a league of her own (no pun intended) with two 300 games to her credit and high average for many years at several different centers in Western Maryland. She competed in Team USA events a number of times, won state Amateur titles in both West Virginia and Maryland and was twice crowned champion of the Maryland Queens tournament.

In the early ’90s, the County 10-pin league at the Bowler was the premier and only scratch league in the area. An all men’s league since its inception, the league voted to allow Butler to bowl as her talent was too great to ignore. Today, women have made and won Men’s televised PBA events, but Butler was ahead of the curve, competing with and beating both men and women for many years. Sadly, injuries cut short her great career. My apologies for the omission.

This Sunday at 2 p.m., The Bowler in LaVale will host the annual men’s All-Star tournament. This tournament features five-man teams made up of the five highest average bowlers at each center. If you want a chance to see the top talent in Western Maryland, stop on by.

Joe Mullenax is the bowling columnist for the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at monktd@yahoo.com