When it comes to bowling in North Dakota, bowlers find themselves looking forward to the bigger tournaments in the area like the Manitoba Open, the Morris Anderson Memorial, the annual Bowling Classic in GF and FM, and the KFYR Bowling Classic in Mandan. These tournaments define a bowlers season, and possibly, a good part of their careers. Because of this, many in the state refer to these four tournaments as majors. Like in golf, tennis, and even the pro bowlers tour, an emphasis is put on these events and many athletes dream of becoming a major champion. So when this weekend came rolling around, many bowlers looked to salvage their season with an impressive showing in the seasons final major, The 27th Annual KFYR TV Bowling Classic.
The bowling began on Saturday where a jam packed field of 120 bowlers set their sights on the $2000 top prize. All bowlers bowled 8 games and only the top 30 would be lucky enough to make it to Sundays second round. The scoring pace was relatively high and several bowlers were able to post games over 200. During the qualifying around, both Ryan Sandvick and Ron Zutz shot a 300 game during the 6th game of qualifying. After 8 games, +57 was the cut off for the second round of play.
After the qualifying round was completed, the final standings for the NDBowling.com Challenge presented by Burgess Detailing were determined. Coming out on top was Thomas Wolf. Wolf qualified 16th at the Morris Anderson Memorial Shootout in January and was able to qualify 2nd at the KFYR to total 18 points and the top spot. For his efforts, Thomas was awarded the $300 top prize. Thank you all for entering the challenge and supporing NDBowling.com!
After a fun filled Saturday night, the top 30 bowlers were required to be at the bowling center by 7AM on Sunday. The bowlers were split up into three groups of ten. Each bowler would bowl a head to head match between those in their group and the winner of each match would be awarded a 30 pin bonus. At the end of 10 games, the top 5 bowlers advanced to the televised stepladder finals. Once again, the scoring pace remained relatively high. Highlighting the scoring pace was Billy Hesteness. Billy fired a perfect 300 game during the match play to bring the tournament total to 3 300 games. Midway Lanes awarded $300 to any bowler who shot a 300 game so Billy, Ryan and Ron were able to each claim that prize. Entering the final game of match play, the scores were very close aside from the tournament leader Brian Diede. After the position round game, Matt Smallin jumped from 7th place to 4th place giving him a spot in the televised finals while many others moved several places as well. Joining Smallin and Diede in the finals were Bob Vander Vorst, Mike Harris, and Scott Endersbe.
The first match of the finals tabbed 2 ND Storm teammates, Matt Smallin and Bob Vander Vorst. Early in the match, Vander Vorst struggled to find a decent reaction on the left lane and an open left him trailing in the match. After jumping out to the early lead, Smallin also experienced carry issues to let Vander Vorst back in the match. In the tenth frame, Smallin finished first and needed a strike on his final ball to shut out Bob and prevailed 223-222. Smallin then advanced to face another ND Storm teammate, Mike Harris. Harris also struggled finding a decent reaction and had a hard time putting strikes together. With a game under his belt, Smallin used a different ball on each lane to conquer the carry issues and ended up winning this match, 236-189. Gaining momentum, Smallin moved on to face Scott Endersbe in the semi-final match. Both bowlers started out strong and everyone in the bowling center knew this match would come down to the tenth frame. With a slight advantage entering the tenth, Smallin had an opportunity to close the door but was not able to do so. Endersbe got up in the tenth frame needing to strike all three times to tie Smallin. With his first shot in the tenth hitting light and leaving a 2 pin, Smallin would win this contest, 236-211. Smallin advanced to the championship match against the tournament leader, Brian Diede. For most of the day, Diede overpowered the lanes and had no problem finding a decent ball reaction. Even on a lane where many of the finalists struggled, Diede was able to put together strike after strike in the final match. Early in the match, both bolwers went shot for shot and only missed twice. Entering the 7th, Smallin had a chance to take the lead with a double. Off his hand, the ball appeared to set up very early and was destined to go through the face. Upon hitting the pins, the 3-6 was left standing momentarily before a stray pin found its way on to the deck and took them out. The strike gave Smallin the lead and proved to be a turning point in the match. Smallin would go on to win it 247-214 to claim his first KFYR TV Bowling Classic title and the second major of his career (2010 CMA Shootout). With the win, Smallin becomes the first bowler to ever win both the Morris Anderson Memorial Shootout and the KFYR TV Bowling Classic. The win also gives Smallin his 4th victory of the season. Nice bowling Matt!
I would like to thank Jim Mellon and his staff at Midway Lanes for hosting another great tournament. I would also like to thank those who entered the NDBowling.com Challenge to help support NDBowling.com. The final standings from the event will be posted later in the week. Also, please visit our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/BowlND) where we will be posting a video of the final shots thrown by Ryan Sandvick and Billy Hesteness during their 300 games. Thank you to all bowlers who attended the event and congratulations to the 27th KFYR TV Bowling Classic Champion, Matt Smallin.