Young 2-hander Ashton Yamasaki edged past PWBA Tour champion Erin McCarthy for the qualifying lead Saturday as plus 52 made the cut and plus 42 cashed at the 2022 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open at Cherry Lanes in Dubuque, Iowa.
The top 48 from the 156-entry field advanced to Sunday’s competition, with four additional players cashing.
Shawn Riley was 48th with 1,252, but GIBA administrator Joe Engelkes said Riley accepted 49th due to a thumb injury as he didn’t believe he could make it through the 12 games on Sunday. Russ Cruse Jr., who was 49th with 1,251, will replace him in the top 48.
Sunday’s innovative format that comes from the fertile mind of Mike Flanagan features 12 games of bowling starting at 9 a.m. with bonus pins based on score from highest to lowest. For example, if 48 advance to Sunday in each game the highest scorer will get 48 bonus pins, the second-highest scorer 47 pins, so on down to 1 bonus pin for the lowest score each game. Whatever number of finalists there are, that number of bonus pins will go to the high scorer down to 1 pin for the lowest score each game.
Yes, it’s not head-to-head; instead, it’s all-against-one. The idea is to reward the consistently solid bowler and not the one who may bowl the right people at the right time. And everyone who makes the cut gets to bowl all of Sunday's games.
Full qualifying results are in this updating Google document. Qualifying results are attached to this story as a PDF.
Shea Bittenbender, who won Friday’s sweeper, led A squad with 1,392. Here is an interview I did with Bittenbender after his round.
Yamasaki, who is from Portland, Oregon, and is attending St. Ambrose University, led C squad. Here is an interview I did with him after his round.
Nick Kruml also had a perfect game on Saturday as he advanced in 10th with 1,369. Here is video of the close of Kruml’s 300.
Luis Lugo and Jason Miller split the last check as they tied for 52nd with 1,242.
Eric Sacks was the only left-hander to advance, finishing 43rd with 1,259.
This continued the 11thFrame.com Open trend of left-handers either dominating or getting routed, which sadly is something that is all-too-common in all of bowling.
Nick Hoagland, the famed pattern designer who designs the patterns for USBC, offered Cherry Lanes director Bob Hochrein his expertise in crafting a shorter pattern than what we have used in recent years, which has been a modification of the 2015 U.S. Open pattern designed by Hoagland for USBC.
I earned Hoagland’s services by making a donation to the Make-A-Wish charity tied to the huge Hoosier Classic college tourney H2M Management runs in Indianapolis, and the plan was to use his services last year, but Hochrein felt he didn't have enough time to thoroughly test the pattern before the tournament.
The pattern Hoagland crafted working with Hochrein is 37 feet with 24.63 mL of Connect oil and pattern ratios by volume of 1.11-1 on the left and 1.66-1 on the right. I thought there might be a lot of urethane being used, but it was not as dominant as I expected. The PDF of the pattern is attached to this story.
Here is what Hoagland said about the pattern: "I was glad to help the tournament out as Jeff was kind enough to make a donation to Make-A-Wish to help the Columbia 300 Hoosier Classic Bowling Tournament to grant wishes! Jeff, Bob and Joe wanted something different, and shorter, and it is a challenge! The pattern should play out for everyone and I do expect urethane to be in play. I think that the pattern will hold up for 12 games due to the fact that everyone’s ball will be outside of the first arrow at the breakpoint; thus saving the track and middle parts of the lane for later in the block.”
As I noted above, the 11thFrame.com Open generally has been feast or famine for lefties and it seemed like trying something different instead of tweaking what we have been using was a better choice.
The challenge is finding something that holds up on the right side for the 12 games on Sunday without having players ending up lofting the left guttercap as happened in 2014. That generally means a pattern that plays from the outside, but it’s very hard to use such a pattern without having lefties dominate. Compensating for that domination can easily shut them out.
We also aim for a challenging pattern with a relatively low scoring pace, which adds to the challenge of crafting the pattern.
I’ll say again something I’ve written and said numerous times: the margin between lefty dominance and shutout, and excessive softness and brutality is smaller now than it ever has been in bowling history. Equity between sides and styles and a middle ground in scoring has never been harder for a lane pattern designer to find.
I think we would gladly would accept a slightly higher scoring pace than preferred if it meant equity left-right and for styles.
The one thing I promise is transparency in what we put out and the reasoning that goes into it — I would not allow my name and brand to be part of any tournament that didn’t offer transparency.
I would expect that if we use this pattern next year, we will tweak it to make the right side a tad tougher, or the left side a tad softer.
Nate Stubler edged Tom Hess to win the 2021 GIBA 11thFrame.com Open and join fellow lefty Matt McNiel as a 2-time champion, as I detailed in this story.
In 2021 when Stubler won, fellow lefties Michael Martell finished fourth and Cam Crowe eighth.
The high lefty in 2020 was Rich Blake in 12th. The 2020 pattern was 43.5 feet with 37.38 mL of oil and main ratios for the zones of 18-18 and 3-7 boards of 1.43-1 on the left side and 1.7-1 on the right side.
The 2021 pattern was a tad shorter and lighter at 43 feet and 37.01 mL, with main ratios for the zones of 18-18 and 3-7 boards of 1.46-1 on the left side and 1.67-1 on the right side.
In 2016, the scoring pace was low (cut 1,196 and cash 1,191 for six games) but the left-handers really had it tough with none making the top five after dominating in 2015, when McNeil won for the second time and three made the top five.
In 2017, a different oil (the oil used in 2016 no longer was available) led to higher scores with no change in the pattern (cut 1,293 and cash 1,287), but still tough times for lefties: only Kyle Anderson made the top 48, though he made adjustments and with a big rally on Sunday finished 11th.
In 2018, a tweak of the pattern produced lower scores (cut 1,214, cash 1,208) and a decided advantage for lefties, who went 2-3-4 in qualifying and finished 3-5-6.
For 2019, we left the left side unchanged and tweaked the right side so the shot outside 5-board had slightly less hang, hopefully to provide more equity between the sides. That was a failure as Stubler won and lefties also finished second and fifth.
The tournament features more than $4,000 in added money from returning sponsors the Dubuque Regional Sports Commission, Diamond Jo Casino, Cherry Lanes, Storm Bowling Products, IAMBowling, and 11thFrame.com.
The entry fee is $160, and first through fifth is $2,800, $2,300, $1,800, $1,400 and $1,100. Seniors and women each are guaranteed a 1-in-3 cashing ratio paying at least $160 per check. For example, if 15 seniors enter and two cash in the regular prize list there would be three separate senior checks so five cash.
I didn’t compete this year as I've pretty much retired from trying to compete in high level events like this against great young players. In addition, I am competing in the PBA50 Tour and PBA60 events in Jackson, Michigan the prior Saturday through Thursday and my wrist will be needing a break.
The GIBA is sponsored by EBI (Brunswick) and we thank EBI (Brunswick) for graciously allowing my Storm-sponsored tournament — I have been on Storm’s staff since 1996 — to be part of the GIBA schedule.