NDBowling.com was in Rapid City, SD this past weekend for the 16th Annual Fisher Beverage Scratch Classic. The event was hosted by Meadowood lanes, a 32-lane center on the West end of town. 51 bowlers made the trip to compete for the $1000 top prize and an early season win. Eric Kempel entered as the defending champion, having dominated the event one year ago. This seasons field and lane condition were noticeably different, but the ending result was more of the same.
The action started on Saturday where the field of 51 bowlers bowled 10 games of qualifying. The lane pattern of choice was the same shot used at the 2012 Bowlers Journal tournament in Baton Rouge, LA. The older synthetic surface offered a bit more natural friction, but it in no way meant the pattern would be easier for the bowlers. Early on, many bowlers found success playing the outside parts of the lane. As the day went on, those who made parallel moves inside were left scratching their heads as many shots starting hooking early. The pattern forced players to keep their break point around 5-10 board with more out room developing as the day went on. By the end of the 10 game qualifying round, it was clear that the bowlers who could project the ball down lane but still have enough turn on the ball to make the corner were the ones left standing and in the top 24 for Sundays’ second round. Saturdays’ qualifying round put a premium on spare shooting as the top 24 cut was -100. While many found the 10 game qualifying round to be a grind, it was just another day in the office for Eric Kempel. Kempel found his groove early and never let off the gas en route to a 231 qualifying average and a lead of over 200 pins.
On Sunday, the grind continued. 24 Bowlers returned and were split into 2 groups of 12. Each group would then bowl round robin match play with the winners receiving 30 bonus pins. The top bowlers from Day 1 quickly found their spots near the top on Day 2. In a drama filled position round, Matt Smallin overcame a 90 pin deficit to claim the final spot in the 5 person stepladder. Smallin was joined by Cassie Leuthold, Sean Mason, defending champion Eric Kempel, and top seed Marty Barrington.
In match 1, Smallin and Leuthold exchanged shots throughout the match. Following a stone 7 by Smallin late in the match, Leuthold had a chance to seal the deal in the 10th. The former collegiate bowling standout at Nebraska fell short after leaving a 10 pin on the initial shot. Smallin advanced with a 226-215 victory and would take on Sean Mason in Match 2. With each match taking place on a different pair, the winner of the previous match held no advantage. Smallin and Mason both struggled on the left lane, but Smallin was able to avoid open frames and won match 2, 204-121 (Mason did not finish 10th frame). Entering Match 3, many of us were thinking back to the 2013 KFYR TV Bowling Classic where Smallin used a big game in position round to sneak into the stepladder finals and proceeded to run the ladder en route to his 2nd Major Title. However, his opponent was the defending champion Eric Kempel who did his own Lee Corso impression, “not so fast my friend”. Despite an early open, Kempel put a few strikes together in the middle of the match and took down the 2012-2013 NDBowling.com Player of the Year with a 233-186 victory. Kempel advanced to face Marty Barrington in the Championship match. This match was close early, but a costly single pin miss by Barrington gave Kempel all the room he needed. Kempel defeated Barrington 222-194 to repeat as champion of the Fisher Beverage Scratch Classic. Nice bowling Eric! The victory gives Kempel his first win of the season.
Next weekend we will be in Williston, ND for the NDBPA State Scratch Doubles Tournament where Kempel is once again the defending champion along side doubles partner, Travis Hersrud. The duo will look to defend their title and gain an early lead on the player of the year race in the NDBowling.com Tour. For more information on this event, visit the ‘Upcoming events’ tab. For information regarding the NDBowling.com tour, click on the ‘tour’ tab. Once again, congratulations to Eric Kempel on the victory in Rapid City. We will see you all in Williston, ND next weekend!