For old timers like me, this weekend at King Pin Lanes in Springfield, Ill. brought back many memories of great times with the World Team Challenge.
As one competitor put it, the inaugural Mary Teubner Memorial Team Challenge was like a combination of family reunion and great bowling tournament.
Seeing so many old friends/competitors and meeting a few younger guys I’ve not had the chance to meet made it like a (bowling) family reunion — and made it a great weekend no matter how the bowling went.
That the title came down to the position round 2-game Baker match between Solid 9 Pro Shop, led by Hall of Famer Pete Weber, and Team Wolfe, led by likely future Hall of Famer Mike Fagan, put the great in the bowling tournament.
There were a couple of glitches along the way, and the format could use a tweak, but I believe this was just the beginning of what will be a successful run for the event conceived by retired PBA Tour champion Jeff Carter and honoring his great friend, who died of cancer more than a decade ago. A special thanks to Dennis Hacker and the rest of the large crew that helped Carter pull off the event.
The event kicked off with a pro-am Friday night that benefited the Mary Teubner Cancer Research Fund.
Saturday’s qualifying featured two 5-game blocks of standard 5-man bowling, one on Kegel Abbey Road and the other on Kegel Broadway.
The lanes were scoreable but not easy, and probably just about right for a tournament that is aimed at more than just elite bowlers.
The bracket action was huge, and that led to the major problem with the tournament: a computer glitch with the brackets that delayed the second squad for well over an hour. Ultimately, the qualifying that had started at 9 a.m. ended well past midnight — and that didn’t count the extra hour for the one-game roll-off for the last spot in Sunday’s finals that ended after 2 a.m.
By the time qualifying ended, we had time for one beer worth of socializing before last call, which was a disappointment.
Clearly, 4-game blocks of qualifying need to be used next year, which should mean qualifying will be over about 8 p.m., assuming no glitches. Plenty of time for dinner, drinks and socializing!
Ten of the 27 teams made Sunday’s Baker format round robin match play — the full field of 36 would have had 12 teams qualifying.
At stake in each match was 100 bonus pins — 25 for each game win and 50 more for sweeping both games.
Qualifying leader Team Beres chose the Abbey Road pattern (the longer of the two) for Sunday’s finals and it was evident immediately that the large number of power players would have the pattern transitioning quickly to a deep inside boomerang shot.
That spelled doom for our Turbo 2-N-1 Grips team, which just doesn’t have the power to get in and match revs and strikes with the impressive array of young talent in the finals.
We ended up ninth but had our usual great time competing together … and I enjoyed the heck out of watching the many great bowlers, as well as renewing acquaintances with former Tour competitors like George Branham III and Bryan Goebel.
It was serious competition, but with a much more relaxed vibe than, say, a PBA Regional.
Ultimately, the title was decided in that position round Baker match between Solid 9 Pro Shop — Weber, Anthony LaCaze, Camden Rokita, Corey Kistner and Rick Coy — and Team Wolfe — Fagan, Mike Wolfe, Chris Sand, Chris Hester and Casey Murphy.
The teams were less than 25 pins apart going into the match and when they tied at 217 in the first game, it meant that the winner (because of the 25 bonus pins) would be the team that won the final game.
Team Wolfe had not led the entire tournament but when they came out of the gate with seven of the first eight strikes and Solid 9 Pro Shop had an open and no doubles until the sixth frame, it became a rout that gave Team Wolfe the title and $8,500.
Solid 9 Pro Shop earned $4,150 for second.
Fagan and Weber put on bowling clinics over the weekend that made any bowling fan who was there or watched the live webcast by Insidebowling.com understand why they are two of the best. They simply have two of the loosest, most gorgeous armswings in history. Fagan's swing is so free it makes me think of Gumby.
Fagan fired a urethane Red Hammer up the outside for much of Saturday and all of Sunday, even edging in slightly and going around it a bit at the end of Sunday.
It’s easy to see why many consider him the best bowler in the world right now.
Weber, in contrast, spent much of the weekend circling the lane like the many young power players roughly half his age — only better.
The best was at the start of the second qualifying squad on the short Broadway pattern. While most of the field played the standard outside shot, Weber was sliding near the left gutter, circling the lane as he fired with the first 19 strikes!
I’ve been competing with and watching Pete for more than 30 years and it was as good a display of his ridiculous skills as I’ve ever seen. The crowd at the center was buzzing over it.
Here’s the rest of the cashers with their prize money: Turbo Tech $2,950, TFJ $2,500, Team Beres $2,100, InsideBowling.com $,1650, Joe Who? $1,500, Team Shepherd $1,250, Turbo 2-N-1 Grips $1,000, Huge Midgets $750.