Two-time Lumber Liquidators Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour champion Jack Jurek; 2008-09 PBA Rookie of the Year Jason Belmonte and Chris Barnes, the newest member of the PBA Triple Crown club, advanced to the Conference Championships in the Dick Weber PBA Playoffs after victories in the Lucas Oil Regional Championships Round at Woodland Bowl.
The Lucas Oil Regional Championships Round, which aired Sunday on ESPN, featured three three-player championship matches with the winner of each advancing to the Conference Championship Round while the two lowest scores in each match were eliminated.
The Conference Championships will air Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. Jurek, who finished second in the Bayer USBC Masters in February, used a string of four strikes and an otherwise clean game to top Wes Malott, 221-206, to win the Midwest Region championship. Bill O’Neill started with a pair of open frames and never got on track in finishing third with a 178.
Jurek dismissed the notion that his victory helped make up for his loss in the USBC Masters title match. “I did have one guy come up and say that what he saw in the Masters (when Jurek helped calm a noticeably emotional Tom Hess in the 10th frame) was one of the nicest things he’d seen, so maybe good karma comes around,” Jurek said.
“It was a little tense, but when you get to TV and the lights affect the lanes a bit, and everyone is trying to get to that final spot, that all plays into keeping the scores down a bit and the excitement level up. That keeps the matches tight.
“I was pretty relaxed,” he added. “That’s my goal now when I get to TV – just relax and bowl, and let whatever happens happen. Too many times I’ve just been too uptight on TV and haven’t performed well. I don’t mind getting beat if a guy beats me, as long as I give myself a chance to perform. That’s all I’m looking to do now.”
Belmonte, seeking his second career title, had a pair of turkeys to overcome a pair of open frames in topping Brad Angelo, 211-202, in the Southwest Region finale. Dino Castillo’s bid for his first PBA Tour title was derailed by three missed spares in a 160 game for third place.
“I had a really good look,” Belmonte said. “The three bad shots I made were really bad. I got a little rushed and a little ahead of myself. I wanted to close out the match and I should have been a little more patient. I’m a little eager to win, but I think everyone else is as well. I just have to realize that I can’t think too far ahead of myself. I have to focus on what my job is, and that’s frame by frame, as clichéd as that may sound.”
There was a point in the match when Angelo was distracted by a noise Belmonte apparently made with his water bottle, causing a moment of tension. But Belmonte dismissed the issue after talking with Angelo. “There’s no issue,” Belmonte said. “(Brad) said good luck for the next match. We discussed it and we’re good. He and I are going for a drink later on; there are no hard feelings.”
Barnes topped former Wichita State University teammate Lonnie Waliczek, 217-201, with a clean game and a pair of doubles in the West/Northwest championship game. Waliczek’s hopes for a third PBA Tour title, and his first since 2003, ended when he followed a double with a pocket 7-10 in the ninth frame.
Veteran PBA Midwest Region competitor Lennie Boresch Jr., making his PBA Tour television debut, threw only two strikes in finishing third with a 177 game.
“The pair was pretty choppy,” Barnes said. “The right lane had a hook spot in the front of the lane and once you got past that, it didn’t hook much at all. The left lane was better, but it was tighter down lane. I tried to make small moves because in practice, every time I had a bigger move I missed the headpin or left a split. When Lonnie got lined up, I thought I might be in trouble, but he was having some issues, too. But that 7-10 in the ninth was just a terrible break."
“I’ve always believed that good things happen to guys who work hard,” Barnes added. “He’s one of those guys, so I’m not surprised that Lonnie made the show. I’m disappointed for him, but if he had to lose to someone, I’m glad it was me.”
On Sunday, April 10, the Conference Championships telecast at 1 p.m. Eastern will include East Region winner Steve Jaros against South winner Randy Weiss, Central champion Dick Allen vs. Midwest winner Jurek, and Southwest champ Belmonte vs. West/Northwest winner Barnes. The winners of those three matches will return to Woodland Bowl on Sunday, April 17, for the live ESPN finals at 1 p.m. Eastern. First prize in the inaugural Dick Weber PBA Playoffs is $50,000.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS PBA TOUR DICK WEBER PBA PLAYOFFS
Woodland Bowl, Indianapolis,
LUCAS OIL REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS ROUND
Midwest Region Championship (winner advances to Conference Championships to meet Central Region winner Dick Allen on ESPN on Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. Eastern):
1, Jack Jurek, Lackawanna, N.Y., 221.
2, Wes Malott, Pflugerville, Texas, 206, $6,000.
3, Bill O’Neill, Southampton, Pa., 178, $5,000.
Southwest Region Championship (winner advances to Conference Championships to meet West/Northwest Region winner Chris Barnes on ESPN on Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. Eastern):
1, Jason Belmonte, Australia, 211.
2, Brad Angelo, Lockport, N.Y., 202, $6,000.
3, Dino Castillo, Carrollton, Texas, 160, $5,000.
West/Northwest Region Championship (winner advances to Conference Championships to meet Southwest Region winner Jason Belmonte on ESPN on Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. Eastern):
1, Chris Barnes, Double Oak, Texas, 217.
2, Lonnie Waliczek, Wichita, Kan., 201, $6,000.
3, Lennie Boresch Jr., Kenosha, Wis., 177, $5,000.