FOUR FLORIDA BOWLERS SURVIVE ‘WAIT’ TO WIN STATE AND NATIONAL TEAM TITLES
The long wait is over for Florida bowlers Vernon Peterson, John Janawicz, John Gaines and Scott Newell, who share the amazing accomplishment of having captured state and national team scratch championships in the same year.
The four standout players became national champions on Sunday, when the 2013 United States Bowling Congress Open tournament came to an end in Reno, and a week earlier, they were state titlists when the Florida State Bowling Association tournament concluded its eight-weekend run in Pinellas County.
On April 2 in Reno, the Lodge Lanes Too team from Orlando pounded out a 3,537 series that marked the highest five-player score in the 110-year history of the national tournament. But the team members had to endure more than three months of waiting—during which several other teams approached their record total—before the tourney’s 125th and final day was completed.
On May 11 at Liberty Lanes in Largo, the Ebonite International of Orlando team posted a 3,442 score that wasn’t seriously challenged over the final seven weeks of the FSBA event. Shawn Naumann was the fifth member of the state championship team as the “other” Lodge Lanes Too bowler (Mitch Jabczenski) was ineligible to compete in the Florida tourney because he lives in Michigan.
In the national team triumph, Peterson led the way with a 772 series, followed by Janawicz (752), Gaines (681), Jabczenski (669) and Newell (664). En route to the state title, Janawicz was highest at 747, followed by Peterson (739), Naumann (696), Newell (656) and Gaines (604).
“It’s a really unbelievable and humbling feeling to be able to win a national and state title in the same year,” Janawicz said. “To win a third eagle (USBC title) was a goal of mine, and I’m so happy that it was a team eagle because it’s really cool to able to share this feeling with your teammates. I bowl with some great guys, I’m very blessed to be a part of this team.”
For Janawicz, it was his third eagle—after his 2004 Regular Singles and Regular All-Events wins—and it was the first trip to the USBC winner’s circle for Peterson and Newell. For Gaines, it was his fourth victory on the USBC championship lanes.
“This year has been a dream come true,” Peterson said.“To win the eagle is a dream, and to win an eagle and state title in one year is something I would never imagine. It took me 10 years to win state and 18 to win an eagle, and the feeling is priceless.”
“I’m kind of surprised that the scores weren’t a little higher than they were (in the FSBA tourney), but Vernon and I were pretty sharp coming into state, having just bowled so well in nationals a few weeks prior,” Janawicz said. “We got lined up pretty quick for doubles at state, and from there, we just broke the lane down a little more parallel, which plays into how we both like to play the lanes.”
“JJ and I have led doubles before, only to lose the lead at the end of the tournament, and with us bowling the first week, it made the wait so much longer,” Peterson said. “Winning doubles with JJ is awesome, and to add the team title with the national title is a feat not many can claim in one year, so that is just plain unbelievable.”
Both Peterson and Janawicz captured four events each in Pinellas County, including victories in both scratch (1,603) and handicap (1,665) doubles. Peterson topped scratch all-events with 2,235, with Janawicz just two pins back at 2,233. The order of finish was reversed in handicap all-events, with Janawicz posting 2,338 with Peterson runner-up at 2,316..
“To win the (scratch) all events is a bonus, especially with me only beating JJ out by two pins, and either one of us winning would have been fine with me, but having a hat trick of titles on the scratch side makes me pretty much speechless,” Peterson said. “This is a year I won’t forget, for sure.”
For a complete wrapup of the USBC tournament in Reno, click here. And to view a USBC-produced video featuring the Lodge Lanes Too members after the team event competition, click here.
FSBA honor scores include six 800 series and four perfect games
During the eight-week run of the Florida state tournament, there were a total of six series of 800 or better, four perfect games and 11 other 11-in-a-row honor scores.
Peterson and Patrick Barnett of Jacksonville posted the tourney’s high scratch series, each rolling 822, while the other 800s were rolled by Joshua Johnson of Jacksonville (816), David Stouffer of Fort Myers (804), Emilio Mora of East Pasco (803) and Greg Blankenship of East Pasco (800).
The perfect games were earned by Blankenship, Mark Frey of Tampa, and Jay Hess and Thomas Wilhelm, both of Orlando. There were seven games of 299, by Mora, Pat Barnett of Jacksonville, Joey Colon of Broward County, Tony Sanchez of Jacksonville, Mike Stiles of Lakeland, James Williams of East Pasco and Matt Gilman of Broward County. Mark Merrill of St. Petersburg and Jeff Stoppelbein of Daytona Beach both rolled a 297 game, while Chris Gutierrez of Tampa and Mike Hamilton of Miami rolled 290s.
For a complete FSBA tournament wrapup report from Examiner.com, click here.
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