Nationally known bowler Liz Johnson throws a strike Saturday at the G. A. Winzer Classic regional PBA bowling tournament held Saturday and Sunday. The second annual tournament raises money for the Auglaize County Special Olympics.
Local bowling lanes owner Denny Borgert had always hoped to bring a Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) event to Wapakoneta. That hope has now officially became a repeat event.
Sixty-four professional bowlers turned out for the event and provided plenty of excitement that included a perfect game, a double playoff for the final spot to advance to the final eight, and threats for 300 again in the final match and the $25,000 challenge at the end of the second consecutive G. A. Wintzer & Son Classic held Friday through Sunday.
“Everything turned out great,” said Borgert, who owns Astro Lanes in Wapakoneta, along with his wife, Joyce. “We had a great turnout and a pretty strong field.”
The regional circuit tournament iss held to raise money for Auglaize County Special Olympics. Special Olympic Coordinator Dave Axe said the event was an overwhelming success.
“It was a very big success again this year,” Axe said. “Thanks goes out to Astro Lanes and so many sponsors that made this event possible.”
Axe did not have a final count on how much was raised by the event, but so far the total was in excess $2,000 with funds from chicken dinner sales and other events not figured in to the earnings yet. He said last year more than $7,000 was raised.
“The money goes to help fund uniforms, entry fees, and accommodations for approximately 60 athletes in basketball, swimming, bowling and track and field,” Axe said.
The tournament was played in TB style, which means all bowlers bowled eight games with the top 20 advancing. They then bowled four more games with 20 advancing, three games with 16 advancing and then the top eight bowling two games to advance to the final four. The number four placer then bowled one game against third place, the winner against second place, and then the winner of that advancing for the final match against the first place finisher out of the round of eight.
Local PBA bowler Todd Book provided plenty of thrills for the crowd by advancing from the number four spot all the way to the final match before losing to Ryan Ciminelli by a score of 289 to 217. Ciminelli provided the crowd a thrill by carrying a perfect game into the 10th frame before sparing in the final frame for his final score.
After the field of 16 was finished, Brandon Novak and Brian Ketzer were tied for the final spot, forcing a one-game bowl-off to advance. The two remained tied again after tying at 257, forcing a best ball playoff. Brian Kretzer bowled a strike and Novak was unable to follow it up with a nine-pin roll on the first ball.
Ciminelli again provided the crowd with thrills, as the winner of the event got the chance to bowl for $25,000 for a 300 game, with a lucky person in the audience having a chance to win $5,000. Ciminelli carried a perfect game into the ninth frame before nine-pinning.
PBA member Chris Loschetter. the winner of the event last year, said the event is gaining popularity among PBA members as a regional tournament.
“It is a top-notch tournament and the people treat you really well here,” Loschetter said. ‘This was my second one and I will be back again.”
Book said he plans to help make the event even bigger next year, saying he plans to secure enough sponsors to make the winning payout as much as $100,000.
“It is such a great deal,” Book said. “Denny (Borgert) is trying to help fix the sport and there is not a better cause than this. The Special Olympics is such a great cause. I really believe they are happier than most. People see them as disabled but they see it as a full life.”
Book said he expects the tournament to draw more big names as the winnings increase.
“You will see some of the top names in bowling and you will see more fans coming out too watch,” Book said.
Riga Kalfas of Kentucky wowed the crowd with the tournament’s only 300 game. Kalfas was defeated by Book 257-218 in the second semi-final. Book advanced to the final by defeating Kalfas and Chandler Stephens in the first semi-final by a 226-212 score.